Gold medal for Springwell’s Neil Johnston at Cross Country event

Amanda Connell in action at the N.I.& Ulster XC races. (picture courtesy of Ballymena Runners)
Amanda Connell in action at the N.I.& Ulster XC races. (picture courtesy of Ballymena Runners)

On Saturday 30th January, hundreds of the finest X-Country athletes from across N.I. and Ulster descended on the University of Ulster’s Coleraine Campus in County Derry/Londonderry for the NI & Ulster Intermediate and Masters Cross Country Championships.

The Masters Men kicked off proceedings with their 8k race, followed by the Masters Ladies 4k event, then the Intermediate Men’s 10k event and finally the Intermediate Ladies 4k race.

These races saw a plethora of outstanding performances by our Springwell representatives but undoubtably pride of place must go to two of our youngest stars, Neil Johnston who won Gold, with a truly immense performance, in the Intermediate Mens race and Aife McSheffrey who, despite being still in the Junior ranks, captured Silver in the Intermediate race, helping the Springwell Ladies to also capture the Gold Medal in that event.

First home for Springwell was Philip Tweedie, 9th overall in 25:22 and 2nd MV45. Next in was another great club stalwart and outstanding runner, Chris Denton in 27:02 and 30th position. A second later was Peter Cromie in 31st then, in 42nd place Paul Thompson in 28:13.

Next home was the Legend that is Gerry O’Doherty, 51st in 28:44, collecting Gold in the MV60 category, less than a week after picking up Silver at the All-Ireland Championships.

Springwell’s remaining two finishers were the valiant Warren McIlmoyle in 31:14 and 77th place and gutsy Paul Campbell in 31;53 and 81st. The following event saw a fantastic Masters Ladies race and finishing first for Springwell and having a tremendous run was Amanda Connell, in 18:10 and 13th overall. Next and having an equally impressive outing was Kerrie McIlmoyle in 18:40 and 20th overall. Supporting these two fine performances were two of our most multi-talented, highly versatile female athletes Fran McFadden and Ladies Captain, Ali McAllister, noted long distance fanatics who wouldn’t normally get out of bed for a mere 4k! Both showed their strength and grit with Fran finishing in 19:29 and 30th place and Ali in 22:13 and 54th place.

Well done also to Lynne Montgomery, not only for making the effort to race for the club on such a dreadful day but also recording an excellent 24:27 and finishing 68th in the truly awful conditions.

In the Intermediate Mens 10K, the Gold Medal being won by our very own superstar Neil Johnston in a fantastic run of 34:38 and some 8” clear of second place, taken by Conan McCaughy of Derry Track Club.

Backing up Neils winning performance were Conor Christy in 38:05 and 18th place, Steven McAlary in 38:15 and 19th place , Jonathon McKee in 39:58 and 37th place, Ryan Murray in 40:33 and 44th place, Martin O’Doherty in 44:43 and 56th place and Aaron Craig in 47:28 and 69th place.

In the Intermediate Ladies the remarkable Aife McSheffrey, still a Junior, took the Silver Medal and the Ladies Team win the Gold medal. Following on from her superb run in the Run Over the Glen, Ciara McSherry posted another brilliant performance, finishing 4th overall and 1st FO in 17:40. Deborah Gilliland also had a great run, finishing 15th in 18:52, then came two of our fantastic Juniors, Rebekah Hunter in 19:02 and 17th place and Aine McKinney in 19:19 and 19th place. Nicola Frizelle, showed great strength and determination to finish a highly greditable 22nd overall in 19:28 and newcomer Katie Christie, coming from a triathlon background, showing much promise and potential to finish 29th in 19:55.