Sunday was another memorable day for Letterkenny Athletic Club as the highly talented Chris Johnston stormed to individual gold in the intermediate cross country championships at Gransha Park, Derry. The teak-tough Fionnaula Diver was rewarded for a truly gutsy performance when holding on for third in the intermediate women’s race. Chris, a third level student based in Dublin, made his intentions clear from the gun and was always in control over the 8,000 metre distance. His winning time of 26:42 was nine seconds quicker than runner-up, Kevin Maunsell from Clonmel. Having attacked the race from the start, Chris kept up a strong momentum throughout and his strength and stamina really kicked in over the fourth and final lap.
There were good runs in the intermediate race also from Paul McGlinchey (51st in 29:41), Barry Meehan (75th in 31:52), Glen Duncan (88th in 33:08) and Paul McMonagle (96th in 34:24). Fionnuala Diver just missed out on a medal in the Northern Ireland masters cross country championships at Lurgan Park eight days earlier, but the mother of two wasn’t going to be denied a podium finish on this occasion. Having given her all over the 5K distance, Fionnaula kept her composure over the closing metres to hold off Michelle Strumm of Omagh AC Harriers by two seconds – 19:32 to 19:34. The race was won by Dublin’s Maria O’Sullivan in 19:01, with Leona O’Reilly runner-up in 19:26. Fionnuala also led the Donegal team to team bronze – the other counters being Catherine Dooher, Finn Valley (25th in 21:18), Kim McLaughlin, Inishowen (31st in 21:56) and Maeve Culhane (45th in 23:12). One again, it was Ciaran Doherty, winner of this race last year, who headed up the charge of black and amber vests. Having placed second in the Northern Ireland masters cross country championships a week earlier, Ciaran finished eighth in a time of 24:07. The race was won by Peter Matthews in 23:03, with City of Derry’s Declan Reed second (23:10) and David Moorwood third (23:19). Ivan Toner, running in his first masters championships, was second counter for his club (29th in 25:12), with Kevin Ferry (45th in 26:22) and Padraig Friel (83rd in 28:24) the other scorers on the LAC team which placed a credible sixth. Back up was provided by the Paddy Ward, (96th in 29:12), Ciaran O’Donnell (100th in 29:28), Ciaran Coyle (103rd in 29:36), Brian McBride (125th in 31:54), Richard Raymond (129th in 32:19), Hugh Gallagher (131st in 33:08), Noel Lynch (134th in 33:53), Tommy Hill (137th in 34:18) and Cathal Roarty (140th in 35:05). Ciaran Doherty and Ivan Toner were part of the Donegal team which placed second behind Dublin. Other members on the county’s silver medal winning team were John Harkin, Tullamore Harriers (22nd in 24:55), Martin Irwin, Finn Valley (25th in 25:05), Kevin Holian, Finn Valley (26th in 25:04) and Joe McKinney, Inishowen (30th in 25:52). Paddy Ward was also the sixth and final counter in the Donegal over-50s team which won silver medals.
In the masters women’s race, Monica McGranaghan and Finn Begley were the club’s two representatives and both had solid runs. Monica posted a time of 18:01 to place 35th, while Finn placed 64th in a time of 19:36. Tullamore’s Pauline Curley made a successful defence of her title to win in 15:13, with Mary Scully of Mullingar second in 15:22 and Mayo’s Collette Tuohy third in 15:39. While injury and illness saw a significant reduction in the number of Letterkenny AC runners who were due to race on Sunday, all those who went to the line deserve great credit for their efforts. The great support from LAC members, and indeed, all Donegal clubs around the course for all races was a huge help to our runners. Well done also to club captain, Aidan McKenna, for organising things so well.
Congratulations to Darren McBrearty who was second in the Irish University Indoor Championships in Athlone on Friday. At the same event, Dan King ran a personal best of 1:54 when finishing fourth in the 800 metres.
The numbers drawn in the weekly lotto were 1, 12, 20 and 23. Kevin Casey matched three numbers and wins 80 euro. This weekend’s jackpot will 690 euro. The last round of the Lifford AC 5K series takes place this Sunday morning in Lifford, with the race having a 10 o’clock start. Group sessions continue every Tuesday and Thursday night, with runners meeting up at 6.30 pm at the Aura Centre. Members are reminded that membership is now due.