Athletes from four Wexford clubs made the short trip to Gowran on Saturday last for the Leinster Novice and Master Road Championships. This is always an exciting day’s action with, on the one hand, athletes on the cusp out to make a mark in the novice races and, on the other, more experienced and battle-hardened veterans out to take the honours in the various masters categories. And while individual titles were the aim of the top guns, the do-or-die spirit was most evident in the striving for club and county team titles.
The Masters race was the first to get Wexford hearts racing. On the first of four laps around the spectator-friendly 1500 metres loop, Brendan Lyng of United Striders and DMP’s John Murphy were pulled along in the wake of the leading group. They held their form through the succeeding laps, going on to take first and second O50. In the process they led Wexford to team gold with Striders’ Pat Culleton (4th O50) completing the winning trio. United Striders took the club title with Pat O’Callaghan, 3rd O55, the club’s third scorer.
Wexford placings in Masters Men:
15th: Brendan Lyng (USAC) – O50 gold
21st: John Murphy (DMP) – O50 silver
23rd: John McGrath (USAC) – O45 4th
27th: Kevin Morris (Croghan) – O45 6th
32nd: Pat Culleton (USAC) – O50 4th
39th: Pat Callaghan (USAC) – O55 bronze
48th: David Kehoe (USAC) – O55 5th
58th: Ted Flannelly (USAC) – O55 8th
Wexford had four runners in the women’s novice 3km race, all from United Striders. Beth O’Connor and Nicola Murphy were joined by the in-form Kate Reidy and newcomer Victoria Swan. The women were competitive throughout with Kate finishing in 12th place and just a few seconds from a top ten finish. Not bad for her first tilt at road racing at this level. Nicola was 16th, Beth 20th and Victoria 33rd. A 4th place in the team competition meant they just missed out on a bronze team medal.
The final race of the day was the Men’s Novice 6km race with some true thoroughbreds bracing at the bit in the pre-race jostle. Wexford’s most improved senior athlete, David Mahon, does not go in for pre-race histrionics: he lets his running speak for itself. The Slaney Olympian’s recent fine performances no doubt gave him the assurance of knowing that he would be there or thereabouts at the business end of the race. From the gun he tucked into the slipstream of the front-runners. A relentless pace ultimately led to three athletes going clear, David at the rear of the trio. St Abbans AC’s tall 800 metres specialist Cian Kelly pulled away to take the win, followed by Mullingar’s Vinny Connolly 2nd with David in the bronze medal position. The Wexford man also led the county to team gold with the backing of a string of Striders’ athletes – Adam O’Connor (11th), Scott James (12th), Alan O’Connor (16th), Colin Carney (19th) – and another Slaney Olympian, Denis Whelan (27th). Tomás Harrington (US) was 28th. Striders took bronze in the inter-club event.
SBR’s evergreen Billy Harpur competed in the O70 race, placing 6th.