Ryan McDermott produced a smashing victory in the Northern Ireland and Ulster Intermediate Cross Country Championships at Lurgan Park in a race where Newcastle bridged a gap of 27 years to win a nail-biting team contest.
McDermott, the reigning Irish Under 23 champion, went to the front from the gun and came through after the first of five laps just ahead of Eoghan Totten, Gerard Gallagher and Mark Hoy with Finn Valley taking an early team lead.
Hoy had moved into third next time round but the decisive move came just after half way when McDermott accelerated, doubled his advantage to finish the circuit 30 metres ahead of Hoy with Totten, Scott Rankin and Conal McGaughey following.
The race was not decided with Annadale’s McDermott crossing the line 12 seconds before Hoy. Totten held third with Colin Watson finishing very strongly for fourth ahead of Rankin, McGaughey, Gallagher and Glen Phair.
The team race was dramatic. Finn Valley had five in the top dozen early on then Foyle Valley headed by Rankin and Keith Shiels started to close before Newcastle with Totten, David O’Flaherty, Seamus Lynch, David Steele, Ian Bailey and David McNeilly came through at the closing stages to take their first title since 1985 by just three points from Finn Valley with Foyle Valley the same amount behind.
Stephen Duncan returned from injury to show his class in the Masters Championship. The Omagh Harrier led from start to finish and was followed by Eamon White, Pauric McKinney, Paul Carroll and Neil Carty in the early stages.
It was Duncan from McKinney and White with two laps to go. Former Irish champion McKinney closed on the penultimate circuit but Duncan was comfortable and came in to win by 16 seconds.
White, Carroll, Ivan Toner, Mark Wright and Carty followed with North Belfast with White, Carty, Conor Curran and Paul Blaney having a runway team success.
Michelle Sturm was third overall in the ladies last year but the Omagh athlete made no mistakes this time as she came out on top of a three girl battle against novice winner Sarah Lindsay and early leader Fionnuala Diver.
Michelle sprinted home in the worst of the torrential rain to take the intermediate crown from Sarah, Catherine Dooher and Amy Hamill. She was supported by Eilish and Roisin Flanagan as Omagh clinched team success ahead of Foyle Valley and City of Derry.
Fionnuala Diver clinched the Masters title from Kay Byrne who added to her huge collection of medals and Donna Evans. Lagan Valley, Finn Valley and City of Derry were top teams.
Davy Seaton started hot favourite for the M65 race and finished well clear of David Nicholson and Fred Murdock. rt