Declan Reed faces tough task to defend title

Declan Reed
Declan Reed

Declan Reed defends his title in a very competitive race in Saturday’s Northern Ireland and Ulster Senior Cross Country Championships at Lurgan Park.

The double Irish Masters champion will not only face Mark McKinstry and Scott Rankin, second and third last year, but the brilliant Seamus Lynch, Eoghan Totten and Coleraine Masters winner Pauric McKinney.

Reed looked tremendous as he defended his Irish and North West crowns as well as claiming M40 silver in the Masters International.

McKinstry, the revelation of last season, is at home on any surface and came first at Comber and Glenariff.

Pauric McKinney is in great form. He won the M50 at the Masters International and then looked supreme as he took the Ulster Masters.

ahead of Alan Bogle.

Team wise City of Derry, North Belfast and Newcastle the top three last year look the strongest along with Foyle Valley.

Declan Reed is supported on the Derry side by Bogle, Emmet McGinty, Aaron Doherty plus Greg and Colin Roberts. McKinstry leads a north side containing young star Conal McCambridge and Eamon White while Newcastle look particularly good with Lynch and Totten leading David O’Flaherty, David Steele and Ian Bailey. Foyle Valley have Rankin, Chris McGuinness and Pius McIntyre.

With Breege Connolly a non-starter due to a hamstring injury and Teresa Doherty, the holder, doubtful the Ladies race can go to Newcastle’s Shalene McMurray who was the runaway winner of the Intermediate title in Coleraine. She leads a strong side containing Joanne Mills and Mari Troeng.

North Belfast will have Louise Smith, Martsje Hell and Roisin Hughes while Dromore had medals hopes with Rebecca Henderson, Laura Bickerstaff, Rebekah Nixon and Diane Wilson.

Karen Alexander, Gerri Short, Catherine Diver, Lauren Quee and former champion Suzanne Higgins will all go well.

The Ladies 6K starts at 1.30pm with the Mens 12K at 2.15pm.

* Charlie Hulson from Sale Harriers scored a great victory in the Armagh International Road Race at the Mall. In a blanket finish with the first nine separated by just seven seconds the Northern Cross Country champion just caught long term leader Yannick Michiels of Belgium with home countries winner Andy Maud of Highgate 3rd.

Amazingly 67 athletes went under the magic fifteen minutes barrier for 5K surely a Worlds best!

Irish steeplechase star Sara Tracey also came late to win the Ladies just in front of Scottish pair Sarah English and Laura Whittle again with just a second separating the medallists.

Olympic steeplechaser Eilish McColgan came 5th. Ann-Marie McGlynn led the locals in 6th with Kerry O’Flaherty just a day after her 1500 in Athlone 8th and Fionnuala Ross 15th.

North Down’s top Junior Craig McMeechan had a brilliant victory in the Open Mens 3000.