Athletics

Emphatic win for Catriona Jennings in Donegal Cross Country Championships

 Letterkenny’s Catriona Jennings
Malcolm McCausland

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Letterkenny’s Catriona Jennings made short work of the opposition to win yesterday’s Donegal Cross Country Championship on a mild and pleasant afternoon in Stranorlar.

The London Olympian, sister of Olympic rower Sinead Jennings, sat in the pack for the opening short lap of the five-kilometre race before moving away for an emphatic victory.

Her club-mate Nakita Burke, who won the Ulster Novice at the same venue seven days earlier, finished strongly to make it a one-two for the club from the cathedral town. Derry Track Club’s Marina Campbell was a close up third.

Jennings and Burke laid the seeds for an historic first ever team win by the Letterkenny ladies in the event with Noeleen Scanlon and Irene McFadden completing the scoring quartet.

“I was pleased with that especially helping the club to win it for the first time,” said Jennings who plans to return to the marathon in which she competed at the London Olympics.

“I’m glad to be back in training [after injury and retirement] and I’ll run the National Cross Country in two weeks, although I won’t be looking to make the European team.”

There was no evidence of the hostile atmosphere that had blighted the men’s race for several years as Christy Johnston, formerly of Letterkenny, led hosts Finn Valley to an impressive team victory.

Letterkenny’s Eoghan McGinley filled the runner-up spot with Valley’s Dermot McElchar taking the final podium spot. Ulster Novice champion Mark McPaul and James McFadden were among the Valley scorers.

Further down the field, Letterkenny’s former European indoor 800m semi-finalist Darren McBrearty continued his slow road back to full fitness after several years out of the sport.

Ireland’s Queen of Country Fionnuala McCormack was in action at the Atapuerca Cross Country in Burgos, Spain.

But the former two-time European champion had to settle for fifth on this occasion behind a quartet of east Africans headed by Ethiopia’s Teferi Sinbere.

The Wicklow woman was using the race as part of her preparations ahead of the National Cross Country in Abbotstown later this month and the Europeans at Chia, Sardinia in December.

Newcastle’s Kerry O’Flaherty was 24th, Ann-Marie McGlynn (32nd) and Laura Shaughnessy took 40th. Brian Maher (67th), David Flynn (72nd) and Kevin Kelly (104th) were all well back in the men’s race won by Bahrain’s Ayalew Aweke who was victorious in this year’s Antrim International.

Earlier, Ulster athletes were competing against Ulster athletes at the British & Irish International Masters’ Cross Country held this year at Tollcross Park, Glasgow in perfect autumnal running conditions.

Newry-based physiotherapist Paddy Hamilton marked his debut in these championships with a fine individual silver medal performance in the M35 age-group.

Hamilton finished behind team-mate and defending champion Michael Harty, helping Ireland to a team victory in the age-group.

Allan Bogle finished fifth to lead home the Northern Ireland squad that finished out of the medals.

JJ Murphy was another winner for Ireland running barefoot in the M65 class, while west Belfast man Paul Elliott, also in Ireland colours, was second the M60 race.

Northern Ireland’s mountain running specialist Jim Patterson went one better taking the M70 gold medal.

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