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Newcastle AC Notes: Busy Summer Continues
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Juniors show their class as the Super 5 Track & Field series draws to a close

Newcastle AC Notes by Joe McCann

Thursday 18th August was the fifth and final Super 5 Track & Field meet organised by Lagan Valley AC. Nine junior athletes and one senior athlete travelled to the Mary Peters track to compete in the various events. Once again Newcastle AC athletes came home with medals and rounded off the season with some fine individual performances which illustrate the great progress made under the tutelage of the committed team of junior coaches.

The first event was the Mini 150m. The sun was shining as our athletes ran their heats. Gabriel Corrigan finished his heat in 2nd place and was duly rewarded with an overall 7th place clocking a time of 24:85 seconds. Caolan Hawkins had a good win in his heat but finished 9th overall in a time of 25:55. Ruairi and Fionn Carey, competing for the first time on the track, finished in 11th place in 26:11 and 22nd place in 30:00 respectively. Representing the girls in the Mini 150m were Chliodhna Carey and Rioghnagh McGuigan.

Aidan Hawkins shows off his medal from the Super 5.

Chliodhna finished in 17th place in 27:28 and Rioghnach, as always, gave it everything and, as always, finished strongly with a smile. Next on the track was Neil McAllister, our only senior club representative. Our first medal of the night came when Neil finished in first place in the senior 200m race in a time of 26:01. This impressed our junior athletes who were shouting lots of encouragement throughout his race.

600m Race
After the sprint events was the Mini 600m boys’ event. Gabriel Corrigan led the field out for the first 200m. Unfortunately Gabriel could not hold onto this position but finished in an impressive 4th place in a time 2:07:07. Just behind him in 5th place overall was Caolan Hawkins with his usual strong sprint finish recording a time of 2:09:32. In a field of 28 athletes, Ruairi Carey also finished strongly in 16th place with a time of 2:20:45. Chliodna Carey and Rioghnach McGuigan lined up with 18 others for the Mini girls 600m race. Chliodhna finished in 16th place in a time of 2:2:97 and Rioghnagh finished in 18th place in a time 2:44:17.

Conditions Tough For Patrick
One of the last track events of the night was the U-15 boys 800 metres. By this stage in the evening the rain had come and the darkness was fast approaching. Despite the deteriorating conditions, our juniors remained close to the track-side to shout for and support Patrick Sheridan who lined up with 9 others.

Patrick recorded a new personal best, finishing in 5th place in a time of 2:25:3.

While the track events were taking place there was also lots of exciting performances taking place in the field events. Gabriel, Caolan, Ruairi and Fionn competed in the Mini Shot Putt event. The second medal of the night came when Caolan won bronze with a throw of 5.28m. He just missed out on silver by 1cm. Ruairi finished in 4th place with a throw of 4.76m, Gabriel in 8th place with a throw of 3.88m and Fionn in 12th place with a throw of 2.73m. Chliodhna finished in 4th place with a throw of 4.52 and Rioghnagh finished in 9th place with a throw of 3.60m in a big field of 17 athletes in the Mini girls Shot Putt.

Meanwhile Ross McCrickard was competing in the U-13 Boys Long Jump where he finished in 6th place with a jump of 3.28m. Ross also competed in the Discus event and was joined by Aidan Hawkins. This was Aidan’s first activity since fracturing his patella back in April. Aidan finished 4th in the discus with a throw of 14.23m just behind Gareth Crawford from Strabane Track Club who threw 14.69m. Ross finished in 5th place with a throw of 13.58m. These were fantastic throws from both these boys who have had no coaching in discus throwing yet. Aidan then moved to the U-13 boys Javelin event where he was again up against Gareth Crawford and Dylan Kearns from Killybegs AC. Determined not to let his knee hinder his performance Aidan produced great throws to take bronze with a throw of 19.79m.

Well done to all our young juniors who took part in this Series. We look forward to next year and hope a lot more can make it to the track to represent their club. The next action for the juniors is on the road as they compete in the races that precede the Killyleagh 5 mile road race on Friday August 26th.

It All ‘Tots’ Up
Finally congratulations to Eoghan Totten on his outstanding success in the recent A level examinations. Our junior runners can derive great inspiration form a young man who shows great commitment to all areas of his life. He studies hard, races hard and is able to manage his time effectively to ensure that he performs amazingly in his studies. We look forward to following his progress as her moves from school to university competitions in the forthcoming year.

Brannigan Brings Home More Bacon
As previously covered via a variety of media devices, including national radio, Ian Brannigan had another sensational outing at the recent British Transplant Games. Ian as captain of the NI team was delighted with another haul of medals in front of strong local support.

In fact such was the enthusiasm that the entire Brannigan clan made an overnight trip to the capital to lend their voices to the many cheering the charismatic Newcastle AC stalwart on. For some there were problems to overcome: would there be cous cous available at exactly 9:48pm? Could Saturday replace Sunday as a gym day? Would there be a microwave for a late night baked spud? Could the fittest girl in the country replicate the efforts of her sibling? Eventually, with all these dilemmas resolved the posse set off to cheer ‘our fella’ on.

They were not disappointed as Ian turned in another five star performance to land a plethora of medals. He convincingly won the 5km road race in a very quick 19:13 and followed that up with 800m gold in 2:35. Silver medals were secured in the 1500m (5:16) and the 400m (63.7 seconds). Well done to Ian, who is a constant source of inspiration to all within the community of Newcastle and indeed Northern Ireland athletics.

The Seven Sevens – Round 3 Of The NIMRA Championship
Several Newcastle athletes took part in this beast of a race on August 6th. While some of us walked, others were in serious racing mode. Woods won impressively and there were excellent performances from our own athletes. Jim Patterson (who I know will be reading this in the library!) ran very well to record 5:18:01, finishing15th overall: mighty impressive for a man on the wrong side of 60! Three places back was Declan McElroy, who will be very pleased with his time of 5:24:35. Anne Sandford was first in her LV45 category and second lady overall in 24th overall, recording 5:30:48. Initially Anne was given a time of 5:33 and after some scratching of heads in the IMRA tent, her protest was upheld, her time amended accordingly and thankfully a major diplomatic incident avoided! Bob Brown completed the Newcastle contingent in 6:10:05 and did not go to the tent to remonstrate with the organisers!

Lurig Challenge
There was a record turnout of 254 athletes at the Lurig Challenge on Saturday 13th August, with the race one of the highlights of the annual Glens Festival. Several Newcastle athletes, Gerald Boylan, Eugene McCann, David McNeilly and Jim Johnston temporarily migrated to the glens of Antrim to take part in the race. This race starts off with around 1.5 miles on road, track and grass before embarking on the relatively short climb up the mountain.

According to Eugene the climb starts off steep and then gets steeper and steeper until eventually you have to use a rope to haul yourself onto the top. He then postulates that the fastest way down is to slide on your backside which he ruminates is very fast on the day but very sore the next day! The race was won by City of Derry’s Allan Bogle, with Andrew Annett of Mourne Runners second and Jonny ‘the Stede’ Steede securing the final podium place.

Our man David McNeilly was an excellent 4th in 31:43, around a minute and a half behind the winner. Eugene McCann (15th 34:48), Jim Johnston (165th 52:39) and Gerald Boylan (182nd 55.31) completed the scoring for Newcastle. When asked for a final comment Eugene thought long and hard before exclaiming ‘small with a big personality’ and I was left to wonder if he was describing himself or the race!!!

Crawfordsburn 5k Trail race & Ballyclare 7
Anne Sandford and Myself were the only athletes (I use the term loosely) to travel to the leafy suburbs of North Down for the testing 5k over a variety of different surfaces on Wednesday 17th August. In a disappointing field of only 95, we were both happy with our performances recording times of 22:06 and 20: 57 to finish 30th and 17th respectively. This is a great race which will hopefully return to its former glory. One fewer made the trip to Ballyclare for a traditional 10 miler which has now been reduced to 7. Mark Kendal continues to impress and recorded a fast 42:36 (just over 6 minute miling) to claim 9th place. The race was won by evergreen v45 Alan McCullough in a very speedy 37:52.

Donard Commedagh Preview
Slieve Donard stands tall at 2796 feet and together with the neighbouring peak of Slieve Commedagh (2515 feet) it dominates the costal skyline. On Saturday 27th August runners will assemble to tackle both peaks in the latest instalment of the NIMRA championship. The race has previously been a British Championship event in 1997, 1999 and 2004 and many championship contenders will therefore be familiar with it. As one of the classic Mourne races it also features in the Northern Ireland Championship. The action gets under way in Donard Park at 11am, with the leading athletes due back shortly after midday. On current form, Des Woods will be the obvious favourite and it would take a brave pundit to bet against him – I am not a brave pundit!

Looking Ahead
The date for the Mill Hill Mile has been confirmed as Tuesday 13th September. The short race is a test of speed, endurance and character. Further details of all Newcastle AC events can be found on the website    www.newcastleac.org