LOCAL athletes were in impressive form at the Irish Life Masters Indoor Championships at the weekend with four medals earned, three of which came on the track.
Castlederg natives, Mark Connolly and Kieran Carlin, both representing Finn Valley AC, came home first and second respectively in the 3000m and 1500m, while Carmen Runners’ Martin Cox, a day after running the Cara Bundoran 5K, claimed bronze in the 800m.
Connolly’s victory was arguably the result of the day in what was widely considered the race of the meet in Athlone as he ran a tactically astute M55 3000m to pip Patrick O’Grady (10:28.11) and Willie O’Donoghue (10:47.41) in third with a time of 10:26.89.
The athletics development coach for Derry City and Strabane District Council was pleased with his win, which was the result of a considered approach to his main opponent.
“I trained all year for that and it was good that everything went to plan and that it worked out,” beamed the 59-year-old. I knew Patrick O’Grady, who was the race favourite, has a decent finish so I was aware that I’d have to take that out of him by the last two laps.
“So, I went out strong with Tommy Payne [winner of the M60 race, which was run alongside the M55] because I knew he’d go with me and he’d even take it on and he did, so it worked well.”
Carlin meanwhile, claimed silver in his last ever M45 event as he turned 50 on Monday, and while pleased with the outcome, he was a little annoyed with himself that he missed out on gold.
He finished the 1500m in 4:33.22 minutes, exactly a second behind the winner, John McGrath, while Eoin Fitzgerald was in close contact in third.
“I sat at the front and tried to stretch it out until the last 400m, but I made a slip,” he acknowledged.
“I hold my hands up. I stepped back when John McGrath got through and that was it. But it was nice considering I had an injury going into it. Normally I’d do the 800m and the 1500m but I was wary of doing the 800 because it’s a faster race and stuck with the 1500.”
The third local medalist on the track, Cox, finished third in the M35 800m in a time of 2:02.04, which was less than a second behind second placed Kieran McGrath, while winner Denis Coughlan came home in 1:59.97.
Although his preparations may not have been ideal, the Carmen Runner was pleased to medal in what was his first ever indoor race.
“[It was] great to win a bronze and all but you always look to do better! [It was my] first time running indoors without specific training. [I] lacked a kick when needed,” he said.
As well as the runners, there was a local medalist in the field, with Lifford Strabane AC’s Mark Doherty picking up bronze in the M50 shot put, with a throw of 10.35 metres.