East Down Miss Out In Numbers Game

EAST DOWN MISS OUT IN NUMBERS GAME The Bobby Rea Memorial Cross Country race on Saturday was the 2nd round of this year’s Cross Country League and attracted another record breaking entry and huge spectator interest, driven no doubt by the inclusion of the NI and Ulster Even Age Group Championships in the programme of events writes Joe Quinn. 

[caption id="attachment_59557" align="alignleft" width="390"]Edde Carroll  329 and Hannah Gilliland 328 with Club coaches Peter Morgan and Sinead Hanna after finishing 5th and 10th respectively on Saturday. Edde Carroll  329 and Hannah Gilliland 328 with Club coaches Peter Morgan and Sinead Hanna after finishing 5th and 10th respectively on Saturday.[/caption]

Many of East Down’s usual suspects in the cross country scene were absent due to their anticipated participation in the Dublin Marathon on Monday but with well over 100 members it was expected that there would be plenty in the wings to step up and ensure maximum participation points to keep things ticking along.

The new League structure awards points for every runner up to a maximum of 16 so that clubs can remain in contention even when unable to field their strongest team. It was disappointing then to find that only 5 East Down men turned out though all acquitted themselves excellently, led by Neil McCartan, a splendid 7th overall, with Barrie Atkinson 24th, Francis Tumelty 60th and the ever improving Liam Smyth 83rd the team scorers while Gary Cull 119th was far from out of it, chipping in with our only bonus point, on his comeback in a field of nearly 170 runners.

Contrast this with Newcastle’s turnout of the maximum 16, to take full appearance points in addition to probable 3rd place team points, thanks to splendid runs by Seamus Lynch 4th, David O’Flaherty 15th, Martin Melville 28th and Barry McConville 51st at a time when they also have runners equally committed to Dublin.

BUT YOU CAN COUNT ON THE LADIES On a much happier note however, the East Down Ladies took their example from the Club juniors earlier in the day and by my unofficial calculations, took 3rd place and 7 appearance points. I wouldn’t be surprised if they go on to take a team podium position at the end of the season. Wouldn’t that be one in the eye for the men?

[caption id="attachment_59558" align="alignright" width="390"]L to R Back Catherine O’Connor and Janine Murray Front L to R Niamh Kellett, Alison Carroll, Joanne Foster, Alison Gilliland and Carmel Tumelty. L to R (Back) Catherine O’Connor and Janine Murray.
Front, Niamh Kellett, Alison Carroll, Joanne Foster, Alison Gilliland and Carmel Tumelty.[/caption]

Catherine O’Connor once again led from the front, taking 9th place in a high quality field, with Niamh Kellett 19th Joanne Foster 30th a superb debut run in the colours and Alison Gilliland 41st. This quartet were ably backed up by Alison Carroll, Janine Murray and Carmel Tumelty on a fine day for running though with some very soft patches around the bends as a result of heavy overnight rain. I should add that Joanne’s husband Davy ran a super debut last week in the Gr8 Dundrum race, clocking 54.07, as a warm up for Dublin. Well done, sorry I missed you in last week’s report and Good Luck on Monday.

UNDER-14 GIRLS TAKE THE EYE Earlier the Club was given an impressive target to aim for when Anna Gardiner finished like a train to take Bronze medal in the Under-10 Girls race, followed up by a really competitive attempt by Edie Carroll in the Under-14 Girls race. Showing considerable maturity Edie took on the field and led for much of the race until overtaken late on by several sprinter in the field. She should be very proud of her 5th place medal as we all are. Her placing last year was 48th ! She was followed home by Hannah Gilliland in 10th place so both qualify for the All Ireland finals.

MACKENZIE SURVIVES THE ROUGH AND TUMBLE In the Under-12 Boys race there was plenty of incident throughout and East Down’s only runner Mackenzie Murray survived tactics which would have been out of place on a rugby field. Nevertheless, he maintained his cool and his balance to claim 57th place and will come back the stronger for it. Noticeable that 15 seconds covered the 20 runners before him, so it would take a whole lot to make a massive difference.

UNDER-16’s The Under-16 Girls team also battled well in a tough race and were led home Aoife Cochrane, who literally ran herself into the ground, with Ella Carroll, Laura Green and Mary Jo Tumelty all keeping the momentum going.

In the Boys Under-16 race Daniel Atkinson was another East own men prepared to take on all comers, prpared to mix it at the front before fading in the energy sapping conditions to finish in a highly respectable 20th place, Owen Edwards seemed somewhat out of sorts on the day but ran consistently throughout.

LAURA QUALIFIES FOR FINALS AGAIN Laura Gardiner ran probably her best race for over a year and finished strongly to claim 5th in the Under 18 Girls race against a very strong field. Her placing was 3 places better than last year and must give her confidence as she looks forward to next month’s All Ireland Finals.

JAMES IN FINE FORM In the Boys Under-18 race James Smyth was simply coolness personified. Just into this age group he ran with the leading group for the first 2 laps, but showed good race awareness and tactical sense to control his pace throughout, finishing a splendid 21st place and will surely better that in the next 2 years.

NEXT WEEK Dolly’s Brae 7 Miles on Sunday next. I might even give it a go myself !

GRIDDLE 10K Sunday 6 December will see local interest will focus on Raholp where the Round the Griddle 10K and Fun Run gets under way at 12 noon from Saul GAC premises. Watch out for further details next week

Billed as the toughest in Co Down – it’s not really – the toughest in Northern Ireland perhaps!

Not one to miss!!