ATHLETICS: Spartans duo win Irish Secondary Schools titles

Fintan Stewart of City of Derry AC Spartans who won individual gold at the Irish Secondary Schools Cross Country Championships.
Fintan Stewart of City of Derry AC Spartans who won individual gold at the Irish Secondary Schools Cross Country Championships.

Another quality weekend of athletics action saw a brace of Irish Secondary Schools Cross Country individual titles won by local athletes Cara Laverty and Fintan Stewart (right), representing Thornhill College and Lumen Christi respectively.

And their City of Derry Spartans clubmate, Catherine Whoriskey made it back-to-back 10 mile wins with a 58m 32s clocking at Saturday’s Cara 10 mile road race in Bundoran.

The flying Spartan posted an excellent win almost two minutes ahead of Letterkenny native Caitriona Jennings, a former Olympics marathon runner, who clocked 60m 21s for the runners-up spot in Bundoran. This followed her 58min dead win at the SSE Airtricity 10 miler on home turf only eight days earlier.

Meanwhile at Mallusk on Saturday there was an historic Derry schools double in the fiercely competitive Irish Schools Cross Country championships with individual golds for Laverty in the Junior Girls race and Lumen Christi’s Stewart in the Senior Boys’ decider.

Cara overturned her defeat at the Ulster championships at the same venue in mid February to grind out a well deserved five second victory margin over runner up Victoria Lightbody of Wallace High School, Lisburn and the best of the rest from the four Irish provinces. She ran brilliantly for the win and deservedly takes her place in the pantheon of Irish Schools Cross Country championship winners. Fintan had given notice of his good form with victory in the Ulsters last month, to become the first Derry Schools winner in the Senior Boys grade.

Saturday’s win was hard earned again but he held strong to deliver a four second margin over fellow Ulster athlete Patrick McNiff of Bambridge Academy and stamp his name like Cara, in the Irish Schools Roll of Honour.

Very well done and congratulations to both young athletes and their coach Sean Laverty and here’s hoping for continued success into the future!

A final mention on the Mallusk races, Fintan’s sister Aela ran very well for a 9th place finish in the Junior Girls championship and St Columb’s Oran Gartland grabbed a top 20 Intermediate boys finish with a fine 16th place.

Also at the weekend there were notable performances from Keith Shiels of Foyle Valley who chased home Carmen 10K road race winner Stephen Duncan; the Spartans Allan Bogle, third in the annual Glenariffe Mountain race on his welcome return to competition, and Derry Track Club duo Conan McCaughey and Paul Barbour 4th and 6th in the Cara 10 miler behind winner Donore Harriers John Travers.

Closer to home Chris McGuinness ran 15m 25s to win Saturday’s St Patrick’s 5k in Gransha, ahead of Derry Track Club man Shane McGowan 15m 50s and the Spartans’ Noel Logan on 15m 55s. Anne Marie Larkin posted a winning 16m 51s clocking to take the female honours ahead of Springwell’s Ciara Toner on 18m 48s and local Sarah Lindsay on 18m 44s.

Walled City Marathon

Meanwhile, the Walled City Marathon is all set for its fifth edition on Sunday, June 4th next and with the closing date of Friday, March 31st looming, all intending participants not yet signed up are urged to book their places as soon as possible.

The early bird offers ended at the end of February and the entry fee now is £45.

To sign on for the Runners World Top 10 UK ranked marathons, get onto www.thewalledcitymarathon.com asap and avoid disappointment!

It’s only 12 weeks now to race day so act quickly to get your name on the start list for June 4th!