Real crackers over Christmas
The holiday period is always a busy one for road races with two races on St Stephen's Day attracting most of the attention this year.
A brilliant race at the annual Fields of Athenry 10km saw Hugh Armstrong of Ballina AC beating seven-times winner Mick Clohisey, who was wearing the No 1 bib.
The pair went through half way in 14 mins 49 secs, with Armstrong then pulling away in the final two kilometres to win by four seconds from Clohisey in 29 mins 32 secs.
Clohisey's time of in 29:36 was ten seconds faster than the course record of 29:46 he had set a year earlier. Third in a personal best 30:47 was international triathlete Con Doherty.
First woman and 15th overall was Breege Connolly of City of Derry Spartans in 34 mins 42 secs, which beat Laura Shaughnessy's course record of 34:56 set a year earlier.
At the Clonmel 4-mile, local athlete Seán Tobin obliterated the course record with a time of 17:45. His time was faster than the 17:59 recorded by Noel Berkeley in Peoria, Illinois on 20 June 1992, which had stood as the Irish best time for the distance. Like many other athletes over the past few months, Tobin was wearing the state-of-the-art carbon fibre shoes which have been helping rewrite the road running record books.
A distant second was Thomas Hayes for Kilkenny City Harriers in 19 mins 5 secs. First woman was Siobhan O'Doherty of Borrisokane AC in 23 mins 10 secs, followed by Dymphna Ryan of Dundrum AC and Clonmel veteran Angela McCann.
Also on December 26, Sean Doran of Clonliffe Harriers won the Streets of Wicklow 5km in 15 mins 47 secs just holding off Gareth Murran of Sportsworld. First woman was Sarah Mulligan of Dundrum South Dublin AC in 17.33.
At the 34th annual Greencastle 5-Mile in Co Tyrone, Neil Johnson of Springwell Runners was the winner with Emma Mitchell of Clonliffe Harriers first woman for a third year in 29 mins 21 secs.
Finishing 14th and first master overall in 28:02 was Tommy Hughes from Termoneeny, who will celebrate his 60th birthday on 8 January next.
A day later, Ben Brunton of St Brigid's AC was the winner of the Rita and Robbie 5km in Navan with a time of 15 mins 42 secs.
Second and first junior was Tadhg Donnelly of Drogheda and District AC while third and first M40 was Brian Leahy of Raheny Shamrock. Karen Costello of Dunleer AC was first woman in 17:44, followed by Laura Buckley of Dunboyne AC and Ellen Vitting of Trim AC.
Finally, on Sunday, Efrem Gidey made it a home win for a second year at the Clonliffe Christmas Cracker 5km in Santry. Gidey, who took junior bronze at the European Cross-Country before Christmas, finished in 14 mins 25 secs. Second was Colin Maher of Ballyfin AC, while third and fir master was Eoin Flynn of Rathfarnham WSAF AC
First woman was Ciara Hickey of Brothers Pearse in 16:36, who has made something of a comeback in the past few months. Emma Mitchell of Clonliffe Harriers was second in 16:54.