Athletics

Harriers hail rising star Matthew Lavery after Irish cross-country triumph

Matthew Lavery with North Belfast Harriers club-mate Roise Roberts, who runs for Ireland in the European Junior Cross-Country Championships in Dublin this weekend

NORTH Belfast Harriers have paid tribute to rising star Matthew Lavery after he stormed to victory at the boys’ U19 Irish cross-country championships in Kilkenny last weekend.

The 18-year-old from Newtownabbey produced a fantastic run at Gowran Park, where Newtownards teenager Rebecca Rossiter (Loughview AC) completed an Ulster double by sweeping to victory in the girls’ U19 event.

Sunday’s success completed a memorable few weeks for Lavery, as he also claimed the Ulster U19 crown in November.

“It was brilliant to end the year with an Irish title,” he said.

“I couldn’t have done it without the help of my team-mates at the Harriers and in particular my coach Jim McGuinness, who has been so supportive of me throughout my time at the club.

“I hope they take as much pride out of this title as I do.”

Lavery recently completed a warm weather training camp in Portugal with Athletics Northern Ireland as part of its endurance development squad, and coach McGuinness - the Northern Ireland record holder for one mile – has been impressed with his efforts to date.

“Matthew is a motivated and modest young runner.

“He has trained hard over the last number of years and his success in becoming the All-Ireland champion is a well-deserved reward for his dedicated training and racing.”

Dad Sean Lavery was also quick to praise the support network that has helped his son succeed thus far.

He said: “Since taking up running six years ago, Matthew has worked so hard. It was wonderful to see all that effort rewarded with an Irish title.

“Thanks to Jim his coach, his North Belfast Harriers team-mates, and the support from St Malachy’s College, Belfast.”

Lavery hopes to compete internationally in 2022, where he would be following in the footsteps of friend and club-mate Roise Roberts, who runs for Ireland in the European Junior Cross-Country Championships in Dublin this weekend.

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Athletics