Athletics

Laura Graham wins Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon in Dublin

Laura Graham won the Rock 'n' Roll half marathon yesterday
By Malcolm McCausland

Laura Graham’s career took a major step forward yesterday when she was the winner of the national title held in conjunction with the Rock’nRoll Half Marathon in Dublin.

The 40-year-old mother of four (pictured) crossed the finish line in one hour, 18 minutes and 56 seconds to land her first Irish championship after taking the bronze medal in the marathon last autumn.

Derry woman Catherine Whoriskey made it a northern 1-2 by finishing strongly to take the runner-up spot in 80:33s.

North Belfast Harrier Eddie Cooke was the first local finisher in the men’s race taking 11th spot in 75:02s, well behind winner Craig Ruddy of Scotland who covered the Phoenix Park course in 69:43s despite the windy conditions.

Ulster’s rising stars were in superb form at the Celtic Games in Swansea helping Ireland to a facile victory over Wales and Scotland.

Ireland ended on 176 points to Scotland’s 161 with the hosts bringing up the rear another three points back.

European Youths’ finalist Brendan O’Donnell celebrated his 17th birthday in style by taking gold in the U18 hammer with a massive throw of 67.35m – that was over 11 metres ahead of his nearest rival.

Gareth Crawford made it a double for the Lifford-Stabane club with a win in the javelin with a 62.39m mark. Aside from O’Donnell, there were two other victories for Donegal youngsters with James Kelly winning the shot putt (16.82m) and Fodhla McFadden in the girls’ triple jump (11.08s/+3.0).

Beechmount Harrier Davicia Patterson moved to the top of the UK age group 400m rankings for the year with a victory in 55.51s. The 15-year-old later contributed to Irish maximum points in the 4x400m relay where Monaghan’s Niamh Malone also ran a leg.

City of Derry’s Fintan Stewart ran a well-timed race to add a win in the 3000m with a 9:07.96s timing. North Down’s Aaron Sexton overcame a 1.9 per second headwind to take the honours in the 200m with a 22.21s timing. City of Lisburn’s Anna McAuley also overcame a breeze to outclass the opposition in the U16 triple jump with a 12.60m effort.

Despite other attractions, road races continued to attract record fields. Almost 300 turned up on Friday night for the Keith Reid Memorial 5 Miles in Cookstown with Mark McKinstry (26:29s) and Gemma McDonald (32:07s) lifting the top prizes. Over in Newtownards John Craig (27:16s) and Debbie Matchett (32:52s) led home their respective fields at the Ards 5 Miles.

As well as park runs all over the nine counties of Ulster, Saturday brought more road races. Marathon specialist Don Travers dropped down in distance to win the Kells & Connor Half Marathon after a tough scrap with Matthew Hewitt.

The Newry Runners star man crossed the line in 78:10s to give him a 28 seconds winning margin over Hewitt from the East Coast club in Larne. Orangegrove’s Lyndsey Tyro had just over a minute to spare in the women’s race after recording 98:03s to Jana Mullerova’s 99:24s.

Kenyan Freddy Sittuk clocked 14:45s to win the Carlingford 5K where 63-year-old Paul Elliott ran an incredible 17:18s and Philip Goss led home the 300 plus runners in yesterday’s Feile 10K in 35:37s.

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