Athletics

Kerry O'Flaherty has top prize in her sights at Seeley 10k

Kerry O’Flaherty on her way to fourth place in Dublin last weekend
Malcolm McCausland

THERE was little time for Kerry O’Flaherty to celebrate her selection for Ireland at next month’s European Cross-Country Championships, with her back in action at the Podium 4 Sport Seeley Cup 10K on Saturday.

O’Flaherty overcame a tortuous journey last week back from her training base in France to take fourth place in the women’s race at the National Inter-Club Championships in Dublin.

Delays on the motorways and ferry port meant she was on the road most of Saturday but just missed out on the bronze medal by a mere 10 seconds. Nevertheless that was still good enough to secure a spot on the team for Hyeres on December 13 and end a sequence when the Newcastle athlete seemed unlucky not to be included.

“It went off fast and I was at the back of the pack, but I didn’t panic because I knew from my run last weekend in Burgos that I would finish strong,” said O’Flaherty after the race.

“That’s the way it went here too and I came through well to take fourth at the line. I didn’t get picked last year and the team got bronze medals and I remember I finished fifth in the trial three years ago and they didn’t pick me. That year, Ireland won the gold medals and I remember sitting on my sofa at home and just crying and crying.”

Paul Pollock is a late withdrawal from the men’s race. This means that Paddy Hamilton assumes the mantle of favourite after dominating the local autumn season to date. The Newry physiotherapist won at Jordanstown and Ballyclare but was disappointed with his 22nd placing at the nationals last Sunday and should go better on the firmer surface.

The race has sold out with all 1,000 places taken on-line. There will be no entries on the day. Race packs can be picked up today (11:00am – 3:00pm) at the Mary Peters Track as well tomorrow at the Ozone Centre from 12:30pm. Further race information can be found on www.athleticsni.org/fixtures

The only other fixture listed this weekend is the Northside Galliagh Gallop 5K in aid of St Paul’s Primary School, Moss Road, Derry on Sunday at 12.15pm. Enter the Galliagh Gallop at galliaghgallop@gmail.com or for further information contact Gerry Lynch on 07702006667.

 

JAMES EDGAR was the outstanding northern athlete at last weekend’s National Juvenile Even Age Group Cross-Country Championships at Santry Demesne in Dublin.

The City of Lisburn overcame a slow start, some would say due to the positioning of the Ulster funnels at the start line, to move through to fifth place in a very competitive U18/Junior Men’s race dominated by Ennis Track Club’s Kevin Mulcaire.

That was good enough to see Edgar lift the gold medal in the U18 category just over a week after his seventeenth birthday to confirm his selection for Ireland’s Junior Men’s team at the Euros.

Despite his enormous potential as a middle-distance runner, the Friends’ School student is adamant that the triathlon is his number one priority. That would also explain his unorthodox preparation for the race that would tear up the coaching manual in regard to tapering for competition.

“I was in the pool yesterday two and half hours doing a lactic production session followed by an hour in the gym,” said Edgar.

“I definitely felt in the legs but I was able to get up to fifth and hold on.”

North Down’s Craig McMeechan turned in his best ever performance to take the silver medal behind Edgar and give Ulster a rare one-two at this level.

With St Malachy’s Eoin McCann in fourth and Letterkenny’s Donal Farren in tenth, the future looks bright for the northern province in the Junior Men’s age group for next few years.

Enniskillen’s Edel Monaghan saved her best form for the national stage by taking sixth in the girls’ U18 race. The Tommy Farrell-coached athlete should be contending for a place on Ireland’s Junior team for the Euros in the next two years.

Beechmount’s Peter Gracey ran well for eighth in the U16 boys’ race, although Seán Corry may have been disappointed with his ninth place. The same could not be said for his Omagh Harrier club mates Niamh Heaney and Enya Haigney in the corresponding girls’ contest.

The two yellow vests were never far from the front in a race won by the outstanding Amy Rose Farrell with the Omagh pair having their own private battle for top spot.

In the end, Heaney nipped her colleague for fifth place by a few seconds to repeat the result in the Ulsters at Jordanstown that before Haigney exacted revenge at the U17 age group championship at Stranorlar.

North Belfast Harrier Rebecca Wallace was the top northerner in the U14 girls’ race taking ninth while City of Lisburn’s Victoria Lightbody occupied second spot in the U12 girls’ race for most of the two kilometre distance before slipping back to seventh.

Annalee supplied two top 10 finishers in the boys’ U12 race with Donnacha McNamara battling his way to a splendid individual silver medal and Donal McSorley close behind in seventh.

That was enough to take the Cavan club to team gold with Westport AC packing better to outpoint the squad that were U11 champions in 2014.

 

EMMA MITCHELL is one of four northern athletes named in the Irish squads to represent Ireland at the European Cross-Country Championships in Hyeres, France on December 13. Kerry O’Flaherty (senior women), Paul Pollock (senior men) and James Edgar (junior men) complete the Ulster contingent.

The Éamonn Christie-coached runner finished 10th in the senior women’s race, second U23 across the line behind Shona Heaslip from Kerry. Athletics Ireland has named just the two girls for the Euros meaning that they will not be fielding a full team in the U23 age group.

The 22-year-old Banbridge athlete has represented Ireland twice previously at the Euros, both times as a Junior Woman in 2009 and 2010, before a stress fracture put her out for a couple of years. Then, her priority was A Levels meaning she missed another winter season.

Last year, she went to St Mary’s in London but found that living in England was not entirely to her taste. She is now back home at Stranmillis College and trains under the supervision of the coach Christie three times per week.

Mitchell competes on Saturday in Liverpool using the British event as a high-class competition in preparation for France.

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