Paul Pollock leads the way at AAI National Senior XC Championships
30 November 2017
Olympian Paul Pollock ran out victorious in senior men’s race as local athletes impressed at this weekend’s AAI National Senior & Juvenile Cross Country Championships in Abbotstown (Sunday 26th November 2017).
Craig McMeechan (North Down AC) and Oisin Duffy (City of Derry AC) also picked up individual gold medals, while Lagan Valley AC topped the Under 16 Girls team podium.
Northern Ireland and Ireland international Paul Pollock showed that he is back to full fitness after his withdrawal from the World Championships earlier this year when he saw off noteworthy competition to break the tape in the men’s 10,000m race.
Paul emerged from the leading pack to cross the line in 31:43 (1st place). Raheny Shamrock AC’s Kevin Dooney and Ballina AC’s Hugh Armstrong followed in 2nd place and 3rd place respectively, with both running 31:50.
The impressive victory also cements Paul’s place on the Ireland team for the upcoming European XC Championships. After the race, the Annadale Striders athlete took to social media to express his delight at the win, saying “Feels great to be back to winning ways at National Athletics Ireland Cross Country Championships. Main event is in two weeks though! Roll on Slovakia!”
Commonwealth Games nominee Adam Kirk-Smith (Derry Track Club) had an excellent run, taking 10th place in 32:50. Stephen Scullion (Clonliffe Harriers) followed in 11th place in a time of 32:52, while Glaslough Harriers’ Conor Duffy (32:58) and Newcastle AC’s Eoghan Totten (33:22) took 17th place and 27th place respectively. City of Lisburn AC’s Jonathan Whan claimed 9th place in the Under 23 race in 34:27.
There was a well-deserved silver medal for Newcastle AC’s Kerry O’Flaherty in the senior ladies 8,000m race. The Steeplechaser played a part at the front throughout, finishing strongly to claim 2nd place in 28:38 – this will be enough to see Kerry join the aforementioned Paul Pollock on Ireland’s Euro XC squad. Pre-race favourite Shona Heslip (An Riocht AC) won in 28:31 (1st place).
Fionnuala Ross (Armagh AC) and Teresa Doherty (Finn Valley AC) also claimed top ten places, with Fionnuala running 29:00 for 5th place and Teresa 29:22 for 8th place. Rachel Gibson (North Down AC) recorded 31:56 for 28th place.
North Down AC’s Katie Moore produced an excellent performance to claim 3rd place in the Under 23 ladies race, crossing the line in 31:50. Fellow NI athlete Zoe Carruthers (City of Lisburn AC) followed in 4th place.
In the Junior Men’s & Under 18 6,000m race, North Down AC’s always impressive Craig McMeechan picked up the National title with a winning time of 19:14 (1st place). City of Lisburn AC’s James Edgar claimed a top ten spot in 19:20 (5th place), while City of Derry AC’s Fintan Stewart (12th place – 20:04) and St Malachy’s AC’s Conall McClean (14th place – 20:05) also ran well.
City of Derry AC’s Oisin Duffy was the top finisher in the Under 14 Boy’s 3,000m race – his gold medal winning performance also guided Oisin and his Spartan team mates Finn O’Neill, Flionn McLaughlin and Michael Houston to 2nd place in the team standings.
The Lagan Valley AC Under 16 ladies team, led by 4th place finisher Rebecca Wallace, topped the podium and collected the associated gold medals; Rebecca was joined on the podium by scoring team mates Aife McGreevy, Libbey Maloney and Eimear McBrien. In the Under 16 Boy’s 4,000m race, St Malachy’s AC athlete Adam Ferris claimed 3rd place.
In the Under 12 Boy’s 2,000m race, Annalee AC’s Fionn McNamara picked up a silver medal after crossing the line in 2nd place. In the same race, the Letterkenny AC team of Philip McGee, Adam McDaid, Mark Galvin and Eoghan Farren also collected silver medals.