Athletics: Acorns AC claim silver medals at Cross Country championships

Acorns Men Cross Country Team
Acorns Men Cross Country Team

On Saturday at the NI and Ulster Cross Country Championships, Acorns fielded 34 runners between the mens and ladies team.

In the “Masters race”, John Knocker was in the V60 class and completed the 8k in 41:24, a great run over the challenging terrain.

Aaron Meharg in full flight

Aaron Meharg in full flight

The ladies “Intermediate” race was next and they give it their all on the 5k course.

Michelle Johnston had a strong run finishing in 23 minutes, with team mates Mary Devlin, Rosemary Hargan, Frances Bell, Leanne Whittle, Annemarie McKernan and Wendy Wensley running in a tight bunch and completing the course in under 26 minutes. Wendy Walker, Teeny Woods and Deidre Bradley were next to finish in under 28 minutes.

Rhonda Darragh, Elaine Hargan and Donna Patterson ran well, with Roisin Mullan and Myah Roddy only a few seconds behind to round off the team results.

The Acorns ladies team is currently lying in joint 3rd place in the league, with three races to go, so there’s a huge opportunity for success.

The Intermediate Mens race, and from the start the pace was frantic for the 10.5k (7 laps) race. Competition was fierce between North Belfast, City of Derry, Foyle Valley and Acorns AC, and at the half way stage North Belfast was slightly ahead, with nothing to separate City of Derry and Acorns AC.

It was all for positions, with Glenn Donnelly, Aaron Meharg, Aidan O’Hagan, PJ O’Neill, Darrell McKee, Fergal Mulgrew and Shane Donnelly taking the fight to the other teams.

The training the Acorns had put in over the last number of weeks was starting to show, as Glenn, Darrell and Aaron picked off a few other competitors over the last two laps.

Club Chairman Francis Purvis was on the side-lines with his lungs on overdrive, whilst some of the support crew were keeping a track of our positions as the runners navigated the 7 laps.

When the first six of the Acorns team crossed the line, we knew 2nd place and Silver was in the bag.

Darrell was first home in 10th overall 42.15, followed by Glenn 44.41, Aaron 44.43, Patrick 44.59, Shane 45.21 and Fergal 45.21. Aidan O’Hagan was just outside the top 6 in 45.25, after taking a tumble in the closing stages.

The official results were announced, and it was confirmed that 2nd place and Silver went to Acorns AC.

North Belfast had picked up 1st place, with City of Derry taking 3rd. There was huge elation within the team as this was truly a massive achievement for the club.

Special thanks to the Chairman and Coach Francis Purvis for his commitment to the Cross Country programme and to the other coaches and committee members, who worked hard with training and planning over the last few months.


Michelle Johnston 23.32; Mary Devlin 25.14; Rosemary Hargan 25.34; Frances Bell 25.36; Leanne Whittle 25.52; Annemarie McKernan 25.58; Wendy Wensley 26.00; Wendy Walker 27.02; Teeny Woods 27.28; Deirdre Bradley 27.30; Rhonda Darragh 28.32; Elaine Hargan 29.36; Donna Patterson 29.57; Roisin Mullin 30.33; Myah Roddy 30.56.

Men’s Intermediate:- Darrell McKee 42.15; Glenn Donnelly 44.11; Aaron Meharg 44.43; Patrick O’Neill 44.59; Shane Donnelly 45.21; Fergal Mulgrew 45.21; Aidan O’Hagan 45.25; Martin Loughran 47.24; Bliadhan Glass 48.30; Martin McGirr 49.33; Pat Groggan 50.03; Alan Shaw 50.39; Conor McWilliams 53.26; Sean Boyle 53.43; Gary McGuckin 53.50; Eugene McAuley 54.19; Oliver Murphy 55.07; Barry Loughran 55.58. Men’s Masters- John Knocker 41.24.

Drum Manor 10k – Karen Alexander and Roger McLean were not taking part in the XC races on Saturday and opted for the Sperrin Harriers organised Drum Manor 10k.

Karen had a strong run taking 1st in the ladies race and crossing the finish in 41:04. Roger completed the 
distance in 46:10.