Derry City Track Club continued to make its presence felt at provincial level with three top seven places in the four races at the Northern Ireland Road Relay Championships in Belfast.
A record 151 teams entered the event that was held in ideal autumnal conditions and excellently organised by host club Orangegrove at the idyllic Victoria Park in east Belfast.
The Master Men’s squad were best placed of the DCTC squads with a close-up fifth place. That was one better than the Senior Men while the Senior Women also impressed with a solid seventh place on their debut at this level.
Adrian Boyle led off for the Master Men with a solid 10:58 timing for the 3380m two lap course. That meant Tim Shiels went off in tenth place which the Omagh-based pastor improved to joint seventh at the second changeover after a 11:13 split.
Gary McGee turned in his usual solid performance on the third leg with an 11:31 timing. That took the green and blacks up to a clear seventh with their top runner still to come.
Cathal McLaughlin did not shirk from the task and was able to haul in another two teams with a 10:45 clocking. That left DCTC just one second behind County Derry rivals Acorns in fourth and 69 seconds outside the medals. But it was the club’s best ever placing in the race after sixth and ninth places in the previous two years.
A DCTC B team of Malcolm McCausland (13:37), Robert Bigger (11:59), Kevin Connolly (12:24) and David Mellon (15:40) finished 37th of the 44 starters.
The Senior Women’s race followed and Hannah McGowan made a promising start for the Derry girls with a creditable 12:49 timing for tenth place. Amy McDaid had a cracking second leg with 12:47 split to move DCTC up to seventh at the final changeover.
Former NI 5K road champion Helen Stockdale took over for the final stage and, despite having her first race in well over 12 months, was able to steer the the girls in green home in an excellent seventh place with a 13:29 clocking.
Probably the best wine was left to last and but for the loss of a key runner at the eleventh hour could have caused a real shock in the Senior Men’s race. Darragh Crossan opened with a 10:30 timing that left the Foylesiders back in tenth.
New recruit Conor Doherty impressed a fine 10:13 clocking which took the team up another two places on the leader board. Conor handed over to younger brother Matt who set the race alight with another 10:13 timing that rocketed DCTC up to second as the runners went off on the final leg.
Conor McIlveen had to step into the breach at the last minute but undaunted turned in a well-timed leg to steer DCTC home in sixth place with an impressive 12:19 effort.
Sean McIntyre finished an impressive third in the Boys’ U15 race with Ben Mellon, Lily Toorish and Kayla McLaughlin also turning in solid performances. Brandon Connolly also caught the eye, finishing just outside the medals in the U15 Boys’ contest.
RESULTS – NI ROAD RELAYS – VICTORIA PARK, BELFAST
Masters Women (3 x 3380m): 1 City of Lisburn (Ann Terek 12:19, Diane Watson 12:45, Kelly Neely 11:35 (fastest of the race)) 36:38 (Record), 2 North Belfast Harriers 37:21, 3 Ballymena Runners Club 37:51, 4 Ballydrain Hrs 37:54, 5 Lagan Valley 38:46, 6 North Down 40:29.
Masters Men (4 x 3380m): 1 Willowfield (Brian Campbell 10:17, Neill Weir 11:17, Paul Rowan 10:44, Chris Moren 10:34) 41:51, 2 North Belfast Hrs 42:40, 3 Ballymena Runners Club 43:17, 4 Acorns AC 44:25, 5 Derry City TC 44:26, 6 Newcastle 44:45. Fastest: Stephen Duncan Omagh Hrs 10:05.
Senior Women (3 x 3380m): 1 Newcastle & District (Kerry O’Flaherty 10:49 (fastest of the race), Joanna Mills 11:38, Mari Troeng 12:04) 34:30, 2 North Belfast Harriers 34:37, 3 North Down 35:23, 4 Dromore 35:51, 5 Springwell RC 37:07, 6 Beechmount Hrs 37:12, 7 Derry City TC 38:44.
Senior Men (4 x 3380m): 1 North Belfast Hrs (Adam Boyd 9:55), Mark McKinstry 10:02, 3 Conal McCambridge 10:32, Andrew Annett 10:02) 40:29, 2 St. Malachy’s 41:21, 3 North Down 41:31 (Fastest: Paddy Robb St. Malachy’s 9:52 tbc), … 6 Derry City TC 43:14