4 November 2017
Derry Track Club’s Gideon Kipsang, Laura Bickerstaff and Matt Shields were the outstanding competitors at the 83rd McConnell Shield cross country meeting hosted by East Antrim Harriers at Ballyclare. Despite being dropped from the ANI Cross Country League at the eleventh hour, the fixture still drew a healthy entry from northern clubs.
Kipsang was in a group of five that broke away from the main field as early as the first mile lap of five. Recent Masters’ trial winner Allan Bogle was setting the pace while Conor Duffy, Mark McKinstry and Paralympic star James Hamilton were all looking comfortable in his wake.
Nothing changed until the fourth lap when Kipsang made his move taking Duffy with him. The Kenyan kept the pressure on throughout the last lap but the tenacious Glaslough Harrier stuck to his task and kept the Kenyan’s winning margin down to eight seconds at the finish line. The consistent McKinstry took third ahead of Hamilton, Bogle and a strong finishing John Black.
DTC’s representatives acquitted themselves admirably. Shane McGowan returned from a long spell of inactivity following injury by taking 14th, followed by 16-year-old Sean McIntyre in 43rd and Conor McIlveen in 82nd.
The DTC juveniles also impressed in the under age races. New recruit Sé Heaney was 3rd in the Boys’ U16 race followed by Ben Mellon in sixth. Kayla McLaughlin was fourth in the Girls’ U16 contest.
Dromore’s Laura Bickerstaff was a clear winner of the women’s race with Sarah Lindsay and Paula Worthington filling the other podium places. Derry Track Club’s Elaine Connor had another impressive performance over the country finishing fourth in the F40 category.
Matt Shields was the winner of the Over 60 and above Master’s Men race and the worthy first recipient of the Bertie Grimason Cup in memory of the host club’s president who passed away earlier this year. DTC’s Mal McCausland picked up the prize for first M65,
McConnell Shield Cross Country
Senior Men: 1 Gideon Kipsang Derry Track Club 26:40, 2 Conor Duffy Glaslough Hrs 26:48, 3 Mark McKinstry North Belfast Hrs 27:27, 4 James Hamilton Ballymena Runners 28:01, 5 Allan Bogle (M35) City of Derry Spartans 29:16, 6 John Black NBH 28:31; M40: Michael Bennett Ballymena Runners 30:16, M45: Eamon White NBH 28:32, M50: Duncan Bell Willowfield 29:49, M55: Noel Connor Ballymena Runners 30:40; Team: NBH
Senior Women: 1 Laura Bickerstaff Dromore 28:15, 2 Sarah Lindsay North Down 18:34, 3 Paula Worthington Ballymena Runners 19:03, 4 Jodi Smith (F35) North Down 19:07, 5 Catherine O’Connor East Down 19:25, 6 Sarah-Jane Guiney (F35) U/A 19:35; F40: Jenny Black VP & Connswater 20:14, F45: Martina McMullen Foyle Valley 19:41, F50: Debbie Matchett Ballydrain Hrs 19:50, F55: Anne Paul City of Derry Spartans 20:21.
Masters Men: M60: Matt Shields NBH 18:29, M65: M McCausland Derry Track Club 21:12, M70: Jim Patterson Newcastle 20:18, M75: Jim Platt Springwell