McGrady Financial Services Junior XC at Delamont Country Park

After the usual bustle getting athletes signed up, the host team of EDAC parents and coaches swung into action to get the packed schedule underway. The P4 and under race is always a big draw particularly with the girls. 17 girls took part in that age group so it was a full on battle with a string of girls coming in each a mere second apart. It was Saoirse Morgan of Burren AC who took first place with Anna Kelly and Mary Houston of Newcastle battling right to the line for 2nd and 3rd place in that order. The boys were let off next and zipped round the 500m course in no time and with only Newcastle on the books they were fighting for in club bragging rights. Harry McVeigh slipped a lead on Joseph Uhomoibi for the honours and Connaire Og McVeigh was in 3rd place.

The P5 Boys had Darragh Ruddle Newcastle in first place one second ahead of club mate Conall Kelly. Jarlath Kearne  (East Down) who is improving by the day was a good 3rd. There was a good scrap between 5th 6th and 7th place in which excited the onlookers. William Taylor of EDAC managed to hold off Ronan Grant with a spirited surge on the hill sprint. The P5 Girls’ podium was split between 3 clubs. Murlough in first with Maisie McVeigh who lead from the off, Dromore in 2nd (Maisie Nicholl) and East Down in 3rd (Caragh Moore).  In the P6 Boys, Henry Houston of Newcastle ran strongly to finish first with Aaron O’Boyle in hot pursuit. Rory Morris still fairly new to cross country gave EDAC a third place slot. The P6 Girls was again a Newcastle one and two with Erin Easton having the edge over Sarah Uhomoibhi. Dromore took third with Hannah Topping.

Quinn Devlin (Newcastle) had a tussle to stay in the lead in the P7 Boys’ Race but pulled it off admirably. Finn Gibney of EDAC tried in vain to catch him but in the chase managed to slip into 2nd ahead of Alex Robinson also from EDAC. Burren AC were dominant in the P7 girls with Ava McArdle, Farrah May Morgan and Cliona Finnegan taking an impressive 1, 2 and 3.

Then on to Post Primary. The distances increasing each time meant that the Year 8 had 1400m to cover but that seemed no bother to the runners. Robbie Nicholl of Dromore went out hard and looked to have the win but he was reeled in by a determined Aaron Lennon of EDAC. It is likely these two will have some good races ahead as they are both talented athletes with grit. Euan McIntosh of Newcastle came over the line in 3rd place. The Year 9 Boys had only 2 entrants so they ran with the Year 9 Girls. Oliver Robinson of EDAC had the upper hand on Oliver Corrigan of Newcastle while Emily Burns of EDAC ran well to come first of the girls. Eimear McAlarney (Newcastle) was pushed hard by Amy McCartan of Dromore and in the end Eimear took 2nd place by a second.

Year 10 was also a mixed race scheduled as an 1800m distance. There was a slight hiccup when the lap counting went awry and they were sent round for an extra half lap. To give them their due, they put their heads down and carried on and only voiced confusion at the end. It was good to see the positive response to a mid race hitch and the extra length will have prepared them for the Schools’ Cross Country in the next week or so. The added meters didn’t change the result either. Lauren Madine and Anna Gardiner (both EDAC) raced the entire course with barely daylight between them and it was only on the final rise that Lauren shook off her club mate to take the win.  Kara Trainor kept a determined rhythm to secure a trio of EDAC on the podium. In the Year 10 Boys Ethan McMullan (Newcastle) was first with Kristian Brown and Ethan Brownlee both from Dromore taking 2nd and 3rd.

And so the final race lined up. 4 boys and 4 girls all Year 11 and above. The sun had dipped by this stage and the chill was starting to permeate the layers but the older athletes had been running along side the younger ones cheering them on so they were well warmed up and ready to run. Mackenzie Murray (EDAC) strode out ahead when the hooter went and used the longer 2000m race to increase his lead and finish clear of Rory Corrigan (Newcastle) who had created a gap back to 3rd place Thomas Brown (EDAC). The Girls’ Race was won by Ciara Savage of Newcastle who did well to fend off Kate McCartan (Dromore). Third place was taken by Rebecca Evans also Dromore.

As usual a good day out was had by all. This series, generously sponsored by McGrady Financial Services and co ordinated by Newcastle AC is a great opportunity for competition but also encourages camaraderie with the other clubs involved and is much appreciated by the juniors and their parents alike. The Series continues in Tollymore on the 23rd February.

Race Report by Alison Carroll, East Down AC.