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Hollymount road race attracts large turn out

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The low winter sun chased the shadows and raced across the fields around the village of Hollymount as the 44rd Annual Road Races took place on Sunday. Once again they were excellently organised by Sean Reilly and his team. It was an emotional day for him and his family as the local community and the racing community from near and far assembled in November sunshine to remember his brother Tom. Tom Reilly's widow Jill, and her daughter Siobhan unveiled a plaque set into the simple stone wall adjacent to the finishing line. It is inscribed 'In memory of Tom Reilly sportsman and scientist 1941-2009'. A chestnut tree was planted beside it by Tom's childhood friend, local man Paddy Connolly.

McHale and Hunt lead Mayo charge on international stage

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The 22nd running of the British and Irish Cross Country International took place in Perry Park, Birmingham, on Saturday. It was hosted this year by the England Athletics Masters Association in conjunction with the famous Birchfield Harriers at their excellent facilities at Perry Barr. The event involves five teams: England, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. They all compete as individuals and teams in the various masters’ age categories from 35 upwards. It is highly competitive and fiercely patriotic. But overall there is camaraderie not often seen in athletics which has been matured over many meetings. A deep respect has developed for all those taking part who compete to the best of their ability. The post race prize giving function is where all of this is best witnessed. The Irish team has had a number Mayo AC participants over the past few years and this year Breege Blehein-McHale (o40) and Tom Hunt (o60) were in the Irish team having qualified at the Masters’ cross country trial in the Phoenix Park last month. Breege had previously taken part in Falkirk, Scotland in 2006, when she ran on the winning Irish o40 team, while Tom was part of the bronze medal team in Belfast (2007) and gold medal team in Swansea (2008). Conditions in Perry Park were tough, with cold blustery showers but the course — just over 2k lap — was a fair test, some soggy stretches and an uphill finish. Women and o65/70 men ran three laps, and men in remaining categories, four. The Irish women's o40 team won silver and were just pipped for first place by one point by Wales' 14pts (3,4,7). Carmel Crowley (Bandon AC) second, Lucy Darcy (Sportsworld) fifth, and a great run by Breege Blehein (eighth) gave them 15 points, with the fourth Irish finisher Helen White (Sportsworld) in 11th. The Irish o60 team were without 2008 individual winner Martin McEvilly (GCH) and drafted in two last minute replacements (including Frenchpark native Liam Hester) finishing fifth with 39 pts (6,16,17) behind winners Wales 12pts (1,3,8). Tom Meehan (Sligo AC) won silver with the o50 team in his first appearance for Ireland. England were overall winners once again with Ireland a very creditable second of the five countries. Of the 15 team categories Ireland won three (M35, M55, W50) and were second in eight, with four runners winning individual gold: M35, M50, W45, W50.

Mayo success in Tuam, Ballinrobe event for your diary

The annual Tuam 8k road race which took place on Sunday was eagerly awaited by many athletes. Training has been frustrated and many races cancelled due to the weather. However, there was a good turn-out by Mayo AC among the 273 rusty and rested runners for the two lap race in Tuam. Gerry Ryan (GCH) retained the title with a clear victory in 25.02. a few seconds outside his 2009 winning time of 25.10. Paul Buckley (Ferbane AC) was second in 25.39 and Mayo AC’s John Byrne came home in third in 26.02. This was an excellent performance by the Straide man in his first race back after dislocating a shoulder in November.


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