The men’s team from North Belfast Harriers moved into first place in the standings of the Northern Ireland Cross Country League with a hard-won victory over City of Derry in the prestigious Malcolm Cup in Ballyclare on Saturday. NBH outpaced City of Derry 46 points to 53 and scored maximum points for participation with 19 finishers.
According to League regulations, clubs with 12 or more finishers earn six bonus points for participation. City of Derry had just six finishers so gained only three points for participation. The standings after three races (unofficially) now have NBH at the top with 39 points, just ahead of City of Derry with 37. Three races remain – one each in December, January and February.
NBH got athletes on the podium in the women’s event in Claire Connor (3rd), and in the separate veterans’ race in Neil Carty (3rd). A strong junior squad took part in the under-age races.
In the Park Runs, both Jim Clinton and Damien Gill moved closer to the magic 100 Park Run figure, with Jim notching his 90th at the Falls Park and Damien his 80th at Queen’s.
Malcolm Cup XC – Seniors, Women and Vets
Alan O’Hara led the way for NBH, covering the four mile course in 21.51 to snag fourth place, while super-vet Tommy Hughes also made the top ten, clocking 22.39. Andrew Considine (15th in 23.21), and Eddie Cooke (17th in 23.33) rounded out the scoring.
NBH’s turn-out of 18 athletes was tops of any club, and with 93 athletes competing, it meant that the Harriers’ yellow vests accounted for nearly 20 per cent of the entire field. Because participation is key to winning the League, it’s important that the club is able to maintain strong turn-outs for the remainder of the races.
Other Harriers competing were Marc Jennings (23rd in 24.17), Eoin McQuillan (27th in 24.33), Peter Morrison (30th in 24.48), Simon Reeve (31st in 24.54), Kent Swann (40th in 25.41), Mark McKinstry (25.48), Joe Norney (26.13), Lance Breen (26.53), Philip Donnelly (27.18), Stephen Walker (27.43), Robert Irvine (27.56), Greg McClure (27.37), Matt Shields (28.14), Fra McCaffrey (28.41) and Gerry Gribbon (30.37).
In the women’s event, Claire Connor continued to show good form, clocking 18.54 over three miles to finish third in a race won by St Peter’s Patricia O’Hagan in 18.29. The women fielded a full team, with Claire supported by Roisin Hughes (18th in 21.08), Nuala Muldoon (22.42), Athanasia Sevastaki (22.43), Paula Wallace (23.57) and Michaela Murphy (25.53).
In the separate veterans’ race, also contested over three miles, Neil Carty secured third in 16.43, just seven seconds behind winner Paul Carroll of Annadale (16.36). He was supported by Greg Walsh (8th in 17.24), Laurence Johnston (18th in 18.23), Paul Jenkins (25th in 18.47) and Jim Newberry (27th in 18.50). Other competitors were James Wallace (19.15), Robert Irvine (19.41), Mark Shields (19.56), Greg McClure (20.24), Fra McCaffrey (20.35), Gerry Gribbon (20.47) and Drew Crawford (28.36).
Special mention should be made of Robert Irvine, Greg McClure, Fra McCaffrey and Gerry Gribbon, who all ran in both the vets and senior races. The senior race was their second cross country of the day and they showed commendable spirit to help the club gain maximum points for participation. In addition, Greg and Gerry had already done the Waterworks Park Run that morning, while Simon Reeve, Lance Breen and Matt Shields ran in both the senior men’s Malcolm Cup and the Waterworks Park Run.
Malcolm Cup – Junior Races
In the under 17 race, Conal McCambridge continued with his string of fine performances, placing third in 17.48 in a race won by Beechmount Harriers’ Odhran Copeland in 17.30.
In the under 15 girls, NBH supplied third and fourth place in Rioghnach Catney and Katie McCambridge, while Conor McQuillan notched fifth in the boys competition.
Tony McCambridge also secured a podium spot in the under 13 event, crossing the line third. He was supported by Thomas Reid and Odhran Catney, while the girls who competed were Amie Bradley and Mollie O’Hare.
A strong squad of under 11’s turned out and were led home by Fionn Nagle in fourth, followed by Brendan McCambridge, Pairie Browne, and Patrick Harding. Bryanna Catney was third among the girls.
Park Run stalwarts Jim Clinton and Damien Gill hit significant milestones on their way to the 100 Park Run mark, with Jim completing his 90th in the Falls Park and Damien getting number 80 at Queen’s.
Also at Queen’s, Claire Prenter made a welcome return as the first woman in 23.17. At City Park in Craigavon, Conor Magill was well clear of the field to cross the line first in 15.55, just seven seconds shy of his best.
At the Waterworks, brothers Gareth and Brendan Grew finished first (17.46) and third (19.01), respectively. The first woman was Co. Antrim Harriers’ Heather White in 22.53.
Simon Reeve (6th in 20.01), Gerry Gribbon (9th in 20.26) and Greg McClure (11th in 20.53) warmed up for the cross country later in the day, while Jack Carberry (22.04) and Lance Breen (22.05) were 21st and 22nd.
They were supported by Patrick McShane (22.43), Paul Williams (22.45), John Robert Johnston (23.36), Matt Shields (24.37), and juniors Katie O’Hare (24.53) and Sean McShane Jr (25.48). Next home were John O’Hare (26.19), junior Patrick McShane (26.28), Sean McShane Sr (26.29), junior Eamon Sheridan (27.28), Kilian Woods (27.36) and junior Piaras McShane (28.16).
(Images: Alan O’Hara; and NBH junior athletes)