The men’s intermediate 10K and, with the last minute course changes, the field had to brace themselves for a seven lap slog through the Coleraine mud at the NI & Ulster Masters and Intermediate Cross Country championships.
An intense up front battle developed during the second lap with Derry City TC’s recent recruit, Conan McCaughey, involved alongside Springwell’s Neil Johnston and NBH man Connor McCambridge.
In the early stages, NBH, Acorns, Springwell, Foyle Valley (with Pius McIntyre in the chasing group) and City of Derry, fronted by Noel Logan and Dermot McElhinney, were disputing the team honours but, as the laps unfolded, Springwell’s challenge receded and the Spartans lost Logan.
Late in the final lap, Johnston made the decisive move to get away from McCaughey, the pair having shaken off McCambridge some time earlier and, in the closing stages, Johnston went on to take the individual gold.
McCambridge claimed individual bronze and led his NBH squad to a successful defence of their team title with, would you believe it, only a point to spare over the consistent Acorns squad.
Meanwhile, Foyle Valley, with Pius McIntyre’s excellent fifth overall finish and with late surges from Roy McGilloway (9th) and Martin Gallagher (10th), came good to grab team bronze. Matt McLaughlin (25th), Darren Wallace (34th) and Terry Murphy (35th) completed the purple vests’ scorers for a thoroughly deserved podium place.
NBH took the honours on 101 points, Acorns, runners up for a second year running, scored 102 points and Foyle were on 118 points for bronze.