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Saturday 3 December 2016

Athletics: Martin McDonald masters the Mountain in Wales

Martin McDonald
Martin McDonald

Martin McDonald of Ballyroan Abbeyleix and District proved the star of the Irish team when he finished second in the over-55 category at the World Masters Mountain Running Championships in Betws-y-Coed, Wales. 

McDonald just held off  fellow Irish athlete Gerard  Maloney of St Paul's, Wexford  for the silver medal and with Ger Griffin with the Irish took team gold.

It was a first team gold for Ireland, and the first men's victory since Robin Bryson won the world M40 title in 2002.

In other good Irish results,  Hazel McLoughlin of Lagan Valley was fifth W35, while both Anthony Glover M40 and Mike Curley Cunningham M50 finished tenth in their age groups. All of the Irish men's teams took medals - the M35 and M50 teams finished second while the M40 and 45 teams were third.

McDonald, a stalwart of the Irish senior team for many years, has pointed out that having a world championships in north Wales is almost as good as a home event.

The performances of the masters will have inspired the Irish squad for the World Senior Championships taking place over much the same course this weekend.

Leading

Leading the men's Irish team is Ian Conroy who runs for Raheny Shamrock when he's in Ireland and for Horwich when he competes in British fell races. He's joined on the Irish team by Tom Hogan of SBR and DSD's Killian Mooney who's running his first season as a senior.

Making up the team are Seamus Lynch of Newcastle AC, Rathfarnham's Brian Furey and Andrew Annett of North Belfast. The senior men will run a savage 13km course with 750m of climb.

After winning the Snowdon International both this year and last, Sarah McCormack of Clonliffe and Ambleside is well used to the rugged terrain of north Wales.

Less than a month ago, McCormack finished fifth in the British trial for the World Championships held on the Betws-y-Code course and she's Ireland's best hope of a medal on Saturday.

The 8.9km women's course takes in two laps of a 4.2km loop that included a steep climb and an equally testing downhill as well as a stretch of flattish terrain.

Over the past four years, McCormack has excelled on technical courses that include uphill and downhill stretches with her best result a sixth at the 2013 World Championships.

Also taking place in Betwys-y-Coed this weekend is the annual British and Irish Junior International.

Alex Hunter leads the Irish boys U17 team, while selected for the first time is Oisín May, whose mother Una is a former Irish international mountain runner and orienteer. Also picked is Cian McDonald - whose father is none other than Martin McDonald.

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