At home and overseas it was a weekend for Irish female athletes with outstanding runs on the road and the track. Lindie Naughton reports. 

After finishing eighth in 2018 and fourth last year, Nakita Burke of Letterkenny AC moved up another four places to win the 41st VHI Women’s Mini Marathon on Sunday (June 4).

In the warm, windy conditions, a group of about seven took the lead keeping the pace moderate and going through the half way mark in a leisurely 17 mins 50 secs. Only with about two kilometres to go did Burke and current Irish marathon champion Courtney McGuire of Clonmel AC break away. Burke proved the the stronger in the final kilometre forging ahead to finish in 34 mins 27 secs. A year earlier, in chilly and wet conditions, Burke ran a time of 33:34.

For second place, McGuire finished just five seconds adrift in a personal best 34:33 having shot into prominence with her surprise third place overall in the Dublin Marathon last October. McGuire will be back in Dublin for the marathon next October.

Photo: Lindie Naughton

On a good day for Donegal athletes,Teresa Doherty of Finn Valley AC finished third after a chase for the line with Fiona Clinton of DSD AC. Just two seconds separated the pair with Doherty timed at 34:58 and Clinton at 35 minutes exactly.

Doherty, the mother of two small children, hasn’t been racing much in recent years. She was happy with her run especially since it came on the day of her 45th birthday!

Although outsprinted for third place, Fiona Clinton was delighted to be leading a strong DSD team to victory with three finishers in the top sixteen. Unfortunately plans to incorporate a Dublin Championshisp in the race fell apart when it was revealed earlier in the week that the mini marathon didn’t have an Athletics Ireland licence.

In the masters categories, Zoe Quinn of Raheny Shamrock AC was first W45, and former race winner Annette Kealy, also from Raheny Shamrock, 14th overall and first W55. First W65 was former Irish marathon champion Christine Kennedy of Galway City Harriers in a superb time of 42:29.

Leading everyone home – as she has done for the past five years – was wheelchair athlete Shauna Bocquet from Craughwell AC in Co Galway. She finished in 29 mins 59 secs – her fastest yet. Bocquet, still only 19, has her sights set firmly on qualification for next year’s Paris Paralympics.

Next up for her is an international track meet in Stoke Mandeville, England – the home of Paralympic sport – at the end of June.

Cork City marathon with 12,000 runners over all events

In Munster, Polish athlete Pawel Kosek won the Cork City Marathon in a time of 2hrs 28 mins 24 secs, followed by Clonliffe pair Gary O’Hanlon and Tudor Mircea Moldovan. First woman was Georgie Bruinvels in 2:49.59.

Ryan Creech of Leevale AC was the first home in the half-marathon with a time of 66 mins 45 secs. Aoife O’Leary of Sportsworld AC was first woman in 83:41.

In a 10km, held for the first time this year, Denis Hegarty of Watergrasshill AC was the overall winner in 32: 12, while Leevale AC’s Lizzie Lee, a former winner of the women’s mini marathon, was first woman in 35:15.

Track stars in France

At the European 10,000m Cup in Pacé, France, Íde Nic Dhomhnaill of West Limerick AC and Shona Heaslip of An Riocht AC finished first and second in the B race. Their times were 33:24.10 and 33:26.96.

Aoibhe Richardson of Kilkenny City Harriers competed in the A race, finishing 19th in 33:49.01.

In the men’s A race, Fergal Curin from Youghal AC finished 18th in 28:44.51, while in the B race, Evan Byrne of Togher AC was eighth in 29:54.37 and Conor Bradley of City of Derry Spartans 12th in 30:26.15.

For the first time in memory the All Ireland Schools’ Track and Field Championships were held over two days on Friday evening and Saturday all day (June 2-3). Highlights included a new championships record time of 9:49.82 in the inter girls 3000m for Clodagh Gill of St Mary’s Ballina.

Winning the senior boys’ 5000m was Irish junior international Jonas Stafford of East Glendalough school in an untorubled time of 14:45.95.

Winning the inter boys’ 1500m in 3:58.08 was Sean Cronin of Col Ghlor na Mara; best of the inter girls was Emily Bolton of Mount Sackville in 4:41.75.

In a closely fought senior girls’ 800m, Zoie Ritchie of The Teresian School and Eve Ní Chonchubhar of Col Cois Life battled it all the way to the line, with both girls given a time of 2:10.90 and Ritchie just edging it.

Fastest girls’ time of the day came at minor level with Freya Bateman’s time of 2:09:01 not only a minor championshisp record, but also faster than both junior and inter records. Batemen is a student at Mount Mercy Cork.

Overall, Blackrock College Dublin won the sniro and junior boys’ teams titles while Campbell College Belfast proved best in both inter and minor grades. St Columba’s Stranorlar won the senior girls title and Tullow CS the inter title.

Photo: Lindie Naughton

Everyone loving laps of the track

Aaron Smith of Cilles AC was the winner of the Dublin 10,000m Championships held as part of the fourth Dublin Graded Trackand Field Meet at the UCD track in Belfield on Saturday (June 3) .

Smith crossed the line in 32 mins 3.48 secs. Second in 32:35.07 was former Irish marathon champion Sean Hehir now with the Croghan club in Wexford. Third and second Dublin athlete was Anthony Harkey of LSA AC in 34:55.41.

Winning the men’s A 1500m race was Jack Maughan of Clonliffe Harriers in 4:05.71. In the B race, Andrew Hyland of Raheny Shamrock clocked a faster time of 4:04.29 for victory.

With the Dublin women’s mini marathon taking place a day later, entry for the women’s distance races was down and no A race took palce. Winning the B race in 4:43.79 was Louise Gaffney of Rathfarnham WSAF AC.

All across Europe on the track

At the Rome/Florence Diamond League on Friday (June 2), Ciara Mageaan of City of Lisburn AC ran a season’s best time of 4:00.95 when finishing foruth in a sensational 1500m which saw the world record broken..

On Saturday (June 3), many times Irish champion Brian Gregan of Clonliffe Harrier, now aged 32, made a welcome return to competition finishing fifth in the 400m at a meet in Regensburg. His time was 47.35 secs. Gregan’s best time of 45.26 dates back to 2017.

Mark English of Finn Valley AC finished seventh in the 800m at the Meeting de Montreuil in France on Wednesday (May 31). His time, a season’s best 1:46.53, puts him second in the current rankings behind John Fitzsimons who ran a time of 1:46.31 in Grosseto, Italy on May 27.

In the women’s 1500m, Sarah Healy of UCD AC finished fourth in 4:04.36. while in the 800m, Louise Shanahan of Leevale AC was fifth in 2:02.96.

At FBK Games in Hengelo, Netherlands on Sunday ( June 4), Andrew Coscoran of Star of the Sea AC won the men’s 1500m in a time of 3:37.97 after a battle to the line with British athlete Elliott Giles, who finished second in 3:38.00. Luke McCann of DCH AC finished sixth in 3:38.61.

Also on the roads

Aaron Hanlon of Drogheda and District AC was a solid winner of the Patrick Bell and Nicky Philips 5km in Bohermeen, Co Meath on Friday (June 2) with a time of 15 mins 7 second.

Hanlon, who had a brilliant juvenile career, is showing a welcome return to form this year and won the Terenure ‘5’ last month.

Second in Bohermeen with a time of 15:22 was Kevin McGrath of host club Bohermeen AC, while third was Eddie O’Connor of Brothers Pearse AC in 15:25. Team winners were North East Runners on 56 points, with Brothers Pearse AC a close second in 63 points.

Aine Cotter of North East Runners was first woman in 16:56 followed by Sinead McDonald of Glenmore AC in 17:24 and Sinead Lambe of Metro St Brigid’s AC in 17:42. Making it a team doubel were the North East Runners’ women, with Clane AC second and Clonliffe Harriers third

Robin Mooney of Inbhear Dee AC won the Athletics Wicklow County 5km Championships title on Wednesday (May 31) with a time of 15:53 beating junior athlete Noah Harris of Parnell AC by three seconds. Myles Gibbons of SBR AC was thrid and first M45 in 15:59, with these three well clear of the chasers.

First woman was Sarah Baryga of Sli Cualann AC in 18:15. Parnell AC pair Catherine O’Connor in 18:33 and Sheila O’Byrne in 18:37 were second and third, ensuring team victory for their club, with the Parnell men making it a double by winning the men’s senior title. In the junior team category, winners were the Bray Runners boys and the Greystones girls.