Pauric McKinney produced a masterly exhibition of tactics to regain his title at the Northern Ireland and Ulster Masters and Intermediate Cross Country Championships at a very muddy UU Coleraine.
Alan Bogle set a blistering pace from the gun in the Masters and was clear of McKinney after the opening two circuits with Eamon White in third.
McKinney, the winner of the M50 class in the International, was biding his time and closed gradually before pulling away in the closing stages to win by 15 seconds from Bogle with White third for the second year in succession.
Neil Weir, Dermot McElchar and Ben Morrow followed as Finn Valley won the team by just one point from North Belfast with Newcastle third.
Shalene McMurray had a runaway victory in the Ladies Intermediate. The Newcastle girl went straight to the front and was in splendid isolation throughout as she came home well clear of all her opposition which included the Masters who were on the track at the same time.
Schools’ star Aife McSheffrey showed great fighting spirit to take second ahead of Karen Alexander, Ciara McSherry, Martsje Hell and Martina McMullan with Springwell taking the team from North Belfast and Acorns.
The Ladies’ Masters was a three-girl battle between Julie Butler, Catriona Divine and defending champion Louise Smith. Julie led for the first half but it was Catriona, a former Senior winner on this course, who came home to win by six seconds from Julie with Louise just three seconds further back.
Jodi Smith was a close up fourth ahead of Jackie McMonagle and Fionnuala Diver. North Belfast took the team from City of Derry and Finn Valley.
The Intermediate Men’s contest was very close with Springwell’s Neil Johnston crossing the line with an eight second advantage over Conan McCaughey.
Gerry Lynch followed his Irish Masters success by winning the M65 race from Barry Morris and Francis Boal.