Sweeney surges in Rathfarnham
Between the perfect weather conditions, a record entry and a commanding victory for Joe Sweeney, the organisers of last Sunday's Rathfarnham 5km had plenty to smile about.
Over 800 had entered the race and 721 finished -- a record for this race, first held in 1998 when 523 finished.
Many were repeat customers using the race either as a test of their fitness after the long summer months or as a fast leg-spinner on the roads before the slog of cross-country.
Up front, Sweeney (pictured), second in 2010 behind Mark Fagan, was the clear favourite, and he pushed the pace from the start. Behind him Sean Hehir of host club Rathfarnham WSAF, the rejuvenated Tommy Evans of Gowran and Donore's John Travers were doing their best to keep in touch.
There was no catching the flying Dundrum South Dublin man, however, and he came home comfortably in 14 minutes 18 seconds -- slightly slower than a year earlier.
Sean Hehir, who is preparing for the cross-country season and a spring marathon, was happy enough to finish second, as was Evans in third place. John Travers, third last year, had to be content with fifth this time after he was edged out by the veteran Shane Healy. Healy, who made the 1500m semi-finals at the 1996 Olympics, has a new goal. At the age of 42, he wants to become the first man over 40 to run a sub-four minute mile outdoors.
Eamonn Coghlan remains the only man over 40 to have achieved this feat indoors.
Making it a DSD double when she won the women's race was the newly married Aoife Culhane, formerly Byrne.
She finished in 16:54 and was followed soon after by the Raheny quartet of Annette Kealy, who was also first over 40, Aoife Talty, Lorraine Manning and Orla O'Mahoney.
For Manning, it was only her second race after a summer spent battling injury.
Raheny also took the junior prizes, with Kevin Dooney 10th overall and Chloe Doran the first junior woman.
Finishing first over 50 was Liffey Valley's Tom O'Connor.
In the inaugural race 14 years ago, O'Connor finished fourth.