Kelly’s joy as bat­tle rages at Old­bridge

Drogheda Independent - - SPORT -

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.

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