Mark McKinstry and Catherine Diver win Mighty Oaks XC

15 January 2018

Mark McKinstry and Catherine Diver win Mighty Oaks XC

Northern Ireland internationals Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) and Catherine Diver (Beechmount Harriers) showed their class to secure top honours in the latest round of the Athletics NI Cross Country League 2017/18, the Mighty Oaks XC (Saturday 13th January 2018).

In the men’s 4 mile race, Mark, who represented Northern Ireland at last weekend’s Antrim International XC, dominated proceedings and enjoyed a relatively comfortable win.  Despite the efforts of a talented chase pack, the Glenwherry man cruised home in 24:45 for 1st place.  In an excellent battle for the runners up prize, City of Derry AC’s Allan Bogle saw off fellow Spartan Noel Logan to secure 2nd place in 25:17; Noel followed in 25:19 (3rd place).

In the all important team competition, it was fiercely close, with North Belfast Harriers topping the standings with 38 points (1st place).  Willowfield Harriers were next with 39 points (2nd place), and hosts Acorns AC finished on 43 points for 3rd place.

In a closely contested ladies 3 mile race, it was a battle between youth and experience, with Northern Ireland Masters Athletic Association (NIMAA) international Catherine going up against the emerging Grace Carson of Mid Ulster AC.  In the end, Catherine edged it, crossing the line in 21:13 (1st place).  Grace clocked 21:16 for 2nd place, before Lagan Valley AC’s Suzanne Higgins crossed the line in 21:56 for 3rd place.

The well-represented Omagh Harriers won the team competition with 69 points (1st place).  East Down AC finished on 74 points (2nd place), with Foyle Valley AC and North Down AC notching up 106 (3rd place) and 111 (4th place) points respectively.

In the early junior race programme, there was impressive wins for Sean Hagan (Omagh Harriers) and Ava Mehaffey (Dromore AC) in the Under 12 race.  Armagh AC’s Ciara Nugent led the Under 14 field home overall, with Jamie Morris (Willowfield Harriers) winning the boy’s equivalent.  In the Under 16 race, Kyle Ross of Ballydrain Harriers broke the tape first, while Sorcha Mullan (Omagh Harriers) won the girls race.


Local athletes enjoyed a successful weekend in the muck and on the roads, around the globe.  The highlights of a busy weekend included a half marathon personal best and IAAF World Half Marathon Championship qualifying standard for Stephen Scullion, a gutsy performance by Kerry O’Flaherty whilst representing Ireland, and an Inter-District gold for Fionnuala Ross.

Catch up with the weekend action below…

Stephen Scullion records new PB at Houston Half Marathon:

Northern Ireland’s Stephen Scullion (Clonliffe Harriers) slashed well over one minute off his previous personal best when recording an excellent 1:03:16 for 29th place at the Houston Half Marathon in America (Sunday 14th January 2018).

Stephen’s new personal best is well inside Athletics Ireland’s qualifying standard of 1:05:00 for this year’s World Half Marathon Championships in Spain.   The race was won by Jake Robertson (New Zealand) in 1:00:01 (1st place).

After the race, Stephen expressed his delight on social media, saying “Enjoyed today alot, big PB and glad all the work from last year is paying off.. forever gracious for the people who believe in me and support, especially @dublinmarathon . #smallsteps .. 63.16 Half Marathon. More to come.”

Fellow Northern Ireland man Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders), was also quick to compliment Stephen on the performance, tweeting: “Boom 63.16 @Scullionxc!! What a run. 2018 marker for @irishathletics distance runners has well and truly been set! #worldhalfteamcomp #greatrun #10weeks @AthleticsNI”

Kerry O’Flaherty and Fionnuala Ross excel at Simply Health Great Edinburgh XC (inc Scottish Inter-District XC Championships) 2018:

Northern Ireland ladies Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC / Richard Rodgers) and Fionnuala Ross (Shettleston Harriers / Dermot Kerr) produced excellent performances at the Simply Health Great Edinburgh XC, which also included the Scottish Inter-District XC Championships (Saturday 13th January 2018).

In the popular 4 x 1k cross country relay, Kerry was joined on the Ireland team by Eoin Everard, Laura Crowe and Kieran Kelly.  Eoin, Laura and Kieran kicked off the Ireland challenge in that order, before Olympian Kerry took the baton for the anchor leg.  The Newcastle AC star produced a gutsy effort to guide Ireland to an excellent 4th place in a time of 11:47. The race was won by Great Britain in 11:33 (1st place), with Belgium and Europe securing 2nd place and 3rd place respectively.

In the feature international races, Leonard Korir (USA) won the men’s 8k in 24:32 (1st place), while Yasmin Can (Europe Select) sealed victory in the ladies 6k in 20:58 (1st place).  Ireland’s Fionnuala McCormack crossed the line in 21:42 for 11th place.

Earlier in the race programme, Northern Ireland and Ireland international Fionnuala Ross continued what has been an excellent last twelve months, when she secured the Inter-Districts title with a strong performance and well-deserved win.  Fionnuala covered the 6k route in 22:27 (1st place) to win by seven seconds.

In the men’s 8k race, another Scotland based NI athlete, Eoin Lennon (Carnethy HRC) claimed 15th place in 27:20.  The race was won by Kristian Jones (Dundee Hawkhill Harriers) in 25:55 (1st place).

Lyndsey Tyro takes the win at Ballina Half Marathon:

Orangegrove AC’s Lyndsey Tyro recorded a new personal best on her way to victory at the Ballina Half Marathon in Ireland (Saturday 13th January 2018).

Lyndsey broke the tape in 1:26:34, which not only saw her secure 1st place in the ladies race, but also an impressive 7th place overall.