Saturday, March 5, 2011

Irish Pride - Ballycotton 10


With the countdown really on, the elite end of the event is now taking shape and it looks like there could be a cracker of a race on Sunday. The following are some of the names to look out for.
Back again this year is 2007 winner Alan O’Shea who is preparing for the Rotterdam Marathon next month. A recent half-marathon in Barcelona where he finished ninth in 66:03 was followed by a 30:45 10km in Enniscorthy, both of which shows the Bantry athlete to be in top form and on course to finally break the elusive 50 minute barrier for 10 miles.
Sergiu Ciobanu won the Cork City Marathon last June and also added the Connemara and Longford titles before winning the AAI National Marathon held in conjunction with the Dublin event. In his only appearance at Ballycotton in 2008 (when he was known as Sergiu Turea) he finished second to Vinny Mulvey in a time of 51:06.
Mick Clohisey was runner-up in Ballycotton twelve months ago, his 50:39 an improvement on the 51:02 he ran when finishing fourth the year before. Last Saturday, he took bronze in the National C-C to add to the silver he won in the National Half-Marathon last September.
Sean Hehir won the Munster C-C in his native Clare last month and had a fine ninth place last Saturday in the Nationals. A 24:31 for five miles at Raheny shows that he, too, could be close to 50 minutes on Sunday.
Cork-born Cillian O’Leary was third three years ago in Ballycotton and is part of a strong Raheny team who will be hoping to retain the team title they have won for the last three years.
And then, of course, we have our two local East Cork runners, Sean McGrath and James McCarthy. Second and third respectively in the Munster Senior behind Hehir, James turned the tables last week with his 17th in the Nationals ahead of Sean who finished 22nd. The latter had won the Carrigaline five-miler six days before in 25:21 and will be hoping to improve on his fifth position of the past two years.
Also hoping for a top 10 position will be Colin Merritt, Wieslaw Sosnowski, George Waugh, Philip Harty, Cian Murphy and no doubt a number of other outsiders.