Wednesday, 11 March 2015



Tim shows off his gold medal 

If a certain Danish lager company did weekends, they could not have organised a better one for Derry City Track Club. A champion and runner up at the British Masters’ Indoor Championships, a victory in the premier Donegal road race of the weekend, a good performance at the Irish Universities Cross Country and the coach even managed a podium place at the Valley 5K Trail Challenge.

Tim Shiels wrote another chapter in a short but brilliant career to date when he scored a gun to tape victory in the 800m at the British Masters’ Indoor Championships in Lee Valley.  But the Omagh-based pastor nearly did not compete after feeling ill on his arrival in London and it was very much a last minute decision to don his racing spikes. However, the 39-year-old showed no sign of any sickness when he struck the front from the gun in the M35 800m and led all the way to win in a more than creditable 2:03.53.

“I felt totally weak on the night before the race but after talking to my coach [Malcolm McCausland], we decided that I would warm up and see how I felt before making a decision on whether to run or not,” explained Shiels. “In the end I decided I would give it a go.  I felt really challenged on the second lap but I was able to build up a lead and hold on comfortably to the finish.  In fact I felt I had loads in hand at the end.”

Shiels who is Irish champion in his age group over 800m both indoors and outdoors will now complete his recovery this week in advance of defending his indoor title this Sunday in Athlone.  Last year he had the crowd on its feet as he came from four metres back to snatch victory on the line after a dramatic lunge at the tape.  The result had to be decided by the photo finish equipment and it was only after an anxious wait that the DCTC athlete was given the decision by a mere four-hundredths of a second.  His time on that occasion was 2:01.97 which no doubt he will hoping to better on the fast Athlone Institute track facility this Sunday.
Darragh receives his prize at Milford
Earlier Cathal McLaughlin was bitterly disappointed to have the gold medal snatched from his grasp at the death in the M45 1500m.  McLaughlin had run the perfect tactical race before taking the lead on the penultimate lap.  He quickened the pace on the final circuit and still had the advantage as he entered the short homestraight. Inexplicably his concentration waned and his pace slackened, allowing Enfield & Haringey athlete John Scott to take the title in 4:20.92 with the McLaughlin having to be content with the silver medal in 4:21.49. 

Closer to home and Darragh Crossan returned to what is rapidly becoming a happy hunting ground for him in north Donegal. Last autumn the Raphoe man, who now lives off the Crescent Link, scored his first victory on the Donegal Grand Prix circuit when he won the Ards 5K Trail Race.  On Saturday, he travelled to the Milford 5K and was rewarded with an emphatic win in 17 minutes and 10 seconds. After running with the pack for the opening 400m, Crossan decided he did not like the company and went away to win by over half a minute. Clubmate Shaun Deery posted a new personal best of 18:02 in sixth place, fitting reward for the work the art teacher has put in over the last 12 months.
Valley Trail Challenge 5K

Meanwhile Hannah McGowan continued to impress in Dublin City University colours at the Irish Universities’ Cross Country Championships at Clongowes Wood College in Kildare.  The Eglinton young woman was a member of the crack DCU squad that finished level with rivals University College Cork but lost out on the gold medals because the Cork fourth scorer finished in front of her DCU counterpart.  Hannah finished just behind former Ulster Schools champion Laura Fitzpatrick in 39th spot to round off her cross country season before concentrating on her preparation for the Irish Universities’ track and field championships in Belfast next month..

However, there was a further twist in the weekend’s tale when DCTC coach Malcolm McCausland made his way to Ness Woods on the fringes of Drumahoe for the second race in the Valley 5K Trail Challenge Series.  McCausland was back in eighth after a cautious start over the opening kilometre of the tough, and at times treacherous circuit, but clawed his way up to third at the finish line.  Winner of the race was Springwell’s Chris Millar with his clubmate Aiden Devine filling runner-up spot.

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