ATHLETICS: National Championships medals secured

The City of Derry Spartans Girls U14 team pictured at the National Cross Country Championships in Santry, Dublin on Sunday. Left to right are, Grace Flynn Page, Aisling Walsh, Aela Stewart and Cara Laverty.
The City of Derry Spartans Girls U14 team pictured at the National Cross Country Championships in Santry, Dublin on Sunday. Left to right are, Grace Flynn Page, Aisling Walsh, Aela Stewart and Cara Laverty.

Waterside Half Marathon winner, Mick Clohisey of Raheny was an impressive winner of the senior mens inter club National cross country championships in Santry on Sunday.

And a determined Foyle Valley quartet, led by Scott Rankin in 36th place, dug in to lift the “C” grade team championships while in the earlier Under 14 Girls race.

City of Derry Spartans Cara Laverty 14th and Derry City Track club’s Lily Toorish 34th, were crucial scorers as Ulster claimed team bronze in the Inter Provincial battle.

St Joseph’s PE teacher, Gary Murray, now running in the Clonliffe Harriers colours, was the first local finisher in the senior race, his 14th place key to the Dublin club grabbing team gold by just a single point, ahead of Leevale of Cork with Raheny just a further three points away in third.

Another with local connections, Kenyan Freddy Sittuk in sixth was the second Raheny scorer and Declan Reed was an excellent 20th for the Spartans, returning to Santry a week after his terrific run at the Masters International the previous Saturday.

The red vests missed out completely on team medals with their main man, Connor Bradley failing to finish and despite Reed’s big run and good support from Arnie Doherty 60th and Gary Slevin 84th they were one short in the four to score team contest.

However city rivals Foyle Valley stepped up to the mark with Scott Rankin leading from the front in 36th place and with gritty efforts from Pius McIntyre 74th, Adrian McGowan 92nd and Martin Gallagher 96th, the purple vests finished eight overall and were delighted to take the “C” grade team championship accolade.

This was a tremendous effort from the Foyle Valley athletes.

Former European cross country champion Fionnuala McCormack nee Britton, easily won the senior women’s race as the challenge from Letterkenny’s Anne Marie McGlynn and her fancied squad failed to materialise.

Team honours went to Leevale, while DSD and Raheny finished in second and third spots respectively.

Cara Laverty was third scorer in the Girls Under 14 bronze medal winning Ulster squad in 14th and DCTC’s Lily Toorish’s 34th gave her the clinching sixth scorer spot as the Ulster squad did well behind strong Munster and Leinster squads.

No joy for the young Spartans Under 14 team in the inter club contest, Aela Stewart, Grace Flynn Page and Aisling Walsh nevertheless doing well in a massive field of close to 180 runners.

Fintan Stewart went in the Boys’ Under 18 race and was disappointed with his 25th place finish after his Ulster bronze medal last month.

Missing out on the gold medal winning Ulster squad’s scoring six added to his disappointment but no doubt he will bounce back.