Derry City Track Club athletes made their presence felt in the final race of the Lifford AC Spring 3 Race 5K Series 2015 with three finishing in the top 11 placers. That capped a great day for the club with four category victories and a third place in the open women’s section.
|Matt Doherty receives his award from former Irish international Sharon Gallen|
Seventeen-year-old Matt Doherty put behind him a disappointing run in the District Schools Cross Country the previous week with a impressive fourth place overall. The St. Joseph’s student ran with club colleagues Cathal McLaughlin and Darragh Crossan in the early stages of the races before pulling away on the final uphill to cross the line in 16:23.
That was just three seconds outside his best and the fastest by a teenager in Northern Ireland this year. It also gave Doherty his third win in the U20 age group to seal overall victory in the age group.
Cathal McLaughlin had another consistent performance to take fifth spot, just seven seconds behind his DCTC team mate. That meant it was a perfect score for the Greenhaw Road man in the M45 age group and augurs well for his assault of a European Indoor title in Poland next month.
Darragh Crossan did well to hang on for eleventh and his fastest time of the winter season. His 17:09 timing was only a few seconds outside his lifetime best but the 17 minute barrier looks set to be breached when he competes in a 5K in Louth next weekend. Connor McCullagh also showed he is getting back to full fitness with a 17th place in 17:46.
Robert Bigger (18:16) and Malcolm McCausland (19:17) had their best runs of the year to claim the M55 and M60 age group wins. Bigger missed the first fixture that meant third place in the overall standings was the best he could achieve. For McCausland it was his third win, a personal best for his age group, and overall victory in the M60 category.
Hannah McGowan showed that she is wintering well at university in Dublin with a third place in the women’s open race. The Eglinton girl showed good strength on the hills before finishing in 20:38. That also took her up a place in the final overall standings to second spot after two earlier third place finishes.
Upfront Omagh Harrier Paul Barbour continued a memorable start to the year with a third successive victory. Barbour was challenged early on by Gerard Gallagher but the Finn Valley runner had no answer to Barbour’s speed in the later stages of a tough three-lap course around the centre of Lifford.
Barbour, who won the Sperrin Harrier Winter League the previous weekend, was timed at 15:28 to give him a 16 second winning margin over Gallagher. Another Omagh Harrier Martin Cox took third in 15:59 and that was good enough to give him second overall in the Series standing. City of Derry’s Martin Mullan claimed the third overall spot despite finishing back in eighth on this occasion.
The host club’s Claire McGuigan also completed the perfect score card with her third win in the three races. The Strabane woman has improved throughout the Series and finished yesterday in 18:21 to take the honours by over a minute from the improving Foyle Valley runner Gemma McGinty, sister of singing star Damian McGinty. Almost 400 runners turned up for the event which saw a late change of route after the Lifford track was rules unsafe on account of ice.
Earlier Derry City Track Club athlete Lily Toorish had impressed at the Roe Valley Trail Run in Limavady. Running in a mixed U16 race, the 12-year-old St. Cecilia’s pupil had put in a strong second half of the 1500m contest to win by nine seconds from her nearest rival. Lily will now focus on the Ulster Schools’ Cross Country Championships at the end of the month after qualifying in second place at the Districts in Coleraine last week.