Kelly’s joy as battle rages at Oldbridge
WITH the Christmas celebrations well and truly over, it was back to business as usual for most of Drogheda & District’s cross-country runners who took to the hilly fields of Oldbridge for the weekly 5K Parkrun.
Last Saturday’s race had an added importance to it as some of the club’s leading runners were anxious to put in a good performance and catch the selectors’ eye with a view to gaining selection for next month’s National Masters Cross-Country Championships in Dundalk.
When it comes to parkruns, there’s none tougher than Oldbridge and what a race this turned out to be, with a real war of attrition taking place between Stephen Kelly and his training partner Paul Smith.
Once the gun went, there was no quarter asked nor given as the pair tried to run each other into the ground over the next three miles, and this kind of racing isn’t for the faint-hearted at the best of times.
It was only in the last mile that Kelly, sensing that the time was right, made the decisive move which saw him draw clear of Smith and open a gap which he held all the way to the finish in a fast 16:40.
Smith wasn’t far behind in second place and his time of 17:04 will give him confidence for the rest of the season.
Less than a minute further back, and giving a fair few years to his younger rivals, was Pat O’Grady who ran a useful 17:57 when finishing third overall.
Perhaps the run of the day belonged to Paul Reilly, who was like a wounded animal following his one-second defeat at the hands of his training partner Yasmin Canning the previous week.
Reilly, who’s no mean athlete, ran like a man possessed right from the gun and stormed up the sharp incline on his way to the top field, ironically cheered on by his arch nemesis Canning who was stewarding at the race.
Once he got to the highest point on the course, Reilly poured on the pace in spades and coming down the hill into the last field the spectators were moving back as Reilly was a man on a mission.
With the clock ticking and Reilly’s legs begging for mercy, he drove himself round the last bend and headed for the finishing line which he crossed in a magnificent 19:19 - a new PB time by an incredible 26 seconds.
With the recent dry spell, the Oldbridge course was in great shape and there were a fine PB run by Conor Cooney, who was 25th in 22:14, while Brian Guilfoyle finished 29th in 22:19.
Prolific racer Nuala Reilly was the club’s first female finisher in 35th spot when running a new PB time of 22:51, with Michele McCullough 68th in 26:41. Also running were Edel Smith - 73rd in 27:12 - and Barney Flannery who was 80th in 27:53.
Bringing in the New Year by running the Jolly Joggers 10K race in Emyvale, Monaghan, were Nuala Reilly and Conor Cooney.
Reilly showed many of her younger rivals a clean pair of heels when finishing in a swift 46:00, while Cooney ran the course in 48 minutes.
Conor Cooney represented Drogheda & District AC in last
Edel Smith in action at the Oldbridge Parkrun.