The Weekly Report – 08/01/18


Paddy McDonald flew the East Down flag on New Year’s Day in the popular Race Over the Glens and posted a very creditable time of 51.03 for what I recall is a really tough test. Paddy was clearly marking down his intentions for the coming year.


The first Saturday in the New Year meant it was the International Cross Country at Greenmount and in spite of heavy frost overnight, the bright morning sun quickly burnt off

all the wintry signs to give almost ideal overhead conditions by the time the first race began.  Underfoot conditions were soft to yielding to say the least, and by the time the Senior Women and Men had their opportunity to try them out they could best be described as heavy.


However the East Down Under 13 Girls, recently crowned all Ireland Champions were up for a battle with all comers, including strong contingents from the top Scottish Clubs. Lauren Madine ran very well to take 5th place overall, finishing just seconds behind 3 Scottish girls and given the same time as the 4th placed runner from Armagh. Lucy Foster 18th  and Kara Trainor 42nd backed her up well and the overall score of 65 gave them 4th place, just outside the medals. Incredibly Kara lost her shoe at the start so ran the entire race semi bare footed and ended up receiving treatment  for a very sore and half frozen foot. But she finished the race!!

Mackenzie Murray was the only East Down runner in the Under 13 Boys race and as we have come to expect he ran very well to take 24th place in the 60 runner event.


Two of the other age group races also saw only single representatives from East Down with Adam Morgan, who like Mackenzie, never runs a bad race, battling all the way in the nearly 100 runner Under 17 Boys race, which also included the Under 20 Men. An extremely stiff task in any circumstances.

Edie Carroll had to compete as our sole runner in the Under 17s Girls race which also included the Under 20 Women. She too ran well over the challenging course to take 54th place.


East Down provided 6 runners in the Girls Primary School race and were well represented by Jodi Foster 4th, a podium position as medals for 1st to 4th places and a year’s supply of Flahavans porridge were handed out.  Emily Burns came 15th  , Kari Foster 26th, Erin Moore 33rd  Anna Boyd 55th and Ella Telford 56th. The features of this race were Kari’s belly flop inside the first 50 yards which inspired her to to a mud-spitting turbo charge from last place to where she finished.  Incredibly Erin suffered the same experience as Kara had earlier, losing a shoe yet running bare footed to the finish whereupon she too had to receive treatment for veritable frostbite!  It shows that there really is a superb spirit in the junior ranks, not to mention the depths of courage and determination displayed by these very young competitors – warriors perhaps a better description?


Kieran Trainor, another soloist, could feel well pleased with his 26th place in the Primary School Boys race, which included runners from Scotland as well as the cream of the talent from across NI.


East Down’s Ladies fielded 9 runners in the International race which is also a Cross Country League fixture, an exceptional number in view of the spate of injuries and illnesses which kept Caroline O’Hare, Niamh Kellett and Deirdre Weatherall on the sidelines. Yet despite the absence of these big hitters the efforts of the No Nonsense Nine bring into focus the need for strength in depth to maintain a challenge throughout the long Cross Country season. As if to underline this requirement it would appear that on first calculations Saturday’s efforts were rewarded with 4th team place, enough to keep them well positioned in the League table ahead of the final 3 rounds in the series.

Surely no one could argue with the level of commitment by every single one of these brave competitors. Anyone who has ever run cross country knows how hard it can be, with slippery conditions trying to prevent the left foot following the right foot, or vice versa if you’re left handed, as smoothly as it does on the roads. So the words shouted from the sidelines should be encouragement just to keep going, rather than to try to increase the pace, when it is known that every ounce of energy is being used


The squad comprised Catherine O’Connor 48th, a fine run as she appears to be finding her best form again, Joanne Foster 56th who never runs a bad race,  Aoife Cochrane 63rd, a revelation on Saturday, probably the best race she has run at this or possibly any level , a superbly judged effort, Cheryl Denvir 75th, another commendable performance by the enthusiastic nurse, Alison Carroll 91st a great captain’s race,  the best I’ve seen her perform, perhaps she feels the weight of captaincy has been lifted from her shoulders as she leaves her successor Janine Murray a great legacy with a strong, enthusiastic and supportive squad, Clare Carson 92nd, another eye opener as she hung in bravely all the way round, Lisa Milligan 97th, has taken to the grass like a duck to water and has a stamina induced engine for keeping going in the worst of conditions, Janine Murray 103rd an excellent choice to succeed Alison and one who will lead by example, and Carmel Tumelty, the ever reliable who runs everywhere and picks up vital team points, which could be so crucial in the final reckoning.


East Down Men had a quintet of runners and all of whom contributed solid performances in increasingly softening underfoot conditions. Led by Martin Willcox 71st, one of the toughest performers around, Dee Murray in 89th place, Paul Burns 114th, Davy Foster 120th and Gavin Hynds 127th the team performed well, having also suffered similarly to the Ladies with withdrawals due to injuries to Stephen Heasley and Neil McCartan.


It’s off to Cookstown for the re-arranged Cross Country League fixture next Saturday while everyone in the Club is looking forward to the Intermediate and Masters Cross Country Championships at the new dedicated course at the Billy Neill’s Sports Complex near Comber on 27th January.

Joe Quinn

8 January 2018