Bobby Rea XC and NI & Ulster Even Age Group Championships 2018:
Conor Bradley (City of Derry AC) and Sinead Sweeney (QUB AC) secured the top prizes as hundreds of athletes descended on CAFRE Greenmount Campus in Antrim for the Bobby Rea XC Races this weekend (Saturday 27th October 2018).
The event, which was the second round of the Athletics NI XC League 2018/19, also included the NI & Ulster Even Age Group Championships.
In a close men’s 8,000m race, Conor Bradley left it until late to make his move. After playing his part in a strong leading group, which contained Declan Reed (City of Derry AC), Craig McMeechan (North Down AC), John Black (North Down AC) and Foyle Valley AC pair Chris McGuinness and Gary Slevin, the Northern Ireland and Ireland international split the group with a surge in the final lap.
Despite the best efforts of current NI & Ulster Intermediate XC Champion Craig McMeechan and NI & Ulster Senior XC Champion Declan Reed, there was no stopping Conor as he quickly increased the gap at the front. The Teresa McDaid coached athlete cruised down the finishing straight to take the win in 25:01 (1st place). Craig crossed the line in 25:20 for 2nd place, before Declan completed the top three in 25:40 (3rd place).
It was a similar story in the ladies 6,000m event, with Sinead Sweeney (QUB AC) securing top honours with a late move. Throughout the race, Sinead had battled it out with Comber Cup XC winner Shalene McMurray (Newcastle AC), with little separating the pair.
In the final lap, Sinead, who is coached by Eamonn Christie, moved clear and put a comfortable gap between herself and the Newcaslte AC athlete. The QUB AC athlete broke the tape in 21:06 for 1st place. Shalene followed in 21:16 (2nd place), while Sarah Grant (North Down AC) impressed with a strong run for a well-deserved 3rd place in 21:21.
Frank Rea of North Down AC led the Vet60+ Men home in 23:59 (1st place).
In the preceding NI & Ulster Even Age Group Championships, performance of the day went to Under 18 gold medallist Mia McCalmont (Tir Chonaill AC). Mia led a strong field from gun to tape in impressive fashion, sealing a comfortable win.
In the equivalent boy’s race, St Malachy’s AC controlled proceedings, taking all three podium places – Conall McClean secured 1st place, with Adam Ferris in 2nd place and Tony McCambridge in 3rd place.
Sean M McGinley of Olympian YC edged a hotly contested Under 16 Boy’s race, while Cara Laverty (City of Derry AC) dominated the Under 16 Girls race, taking the win.
In the closest race of the day, the Under 14 Boy’s event, Gearoid Lynch (Shercock AC) took victory from Luke McCausland (City of Lisburn AC) on the line, with both athletes recording exactly the same time. East Down AC’s Lauren Madine took the gold medal in the Under 14 Girl’s category after seeing off strong competition in the form of Hazel Hughes (Shercock AC) and her own club mate Anna Gardiner (East Down AC); all three finished within two seconds.
Fionn McNamara (Annalee AC) and Miah Fletcher (Cranford AC) claimed well-deserved wins in their respective Under 12 races. In the youngest category of the day, the Under 10’s, Harry Curley (Mid Ulster AC) and Cliodhna McBride (Cranford AC) emerged victorious.