ALTHOUGH Leevale runners dominated the race - providing the first three men and two of the first four women – the real winner at the Pat O’Keeffe Memorial 5km was the look of delight on the participants’ faces as they welcomed back the return of competitive races.
Held on a sweltering evening in the beautiful environs of Doneraile Park, the race, organised by North Cork AC, was held in memory of Pat O’Keeffe of Charleville who passed way after a long illness a year ago last May.
During the 1990s, Killmalcock-native Pat was instrumental in the organisation of the original Ballyhoura Series held around the various towns and villages in his local area.
Despite being limited to 200 entrants due to Covid restrictions, the race still raised in the region of €1,700 for Cancer Research.
Conor McAuley of Leevale continued his recent good performances to take first place around the woodland trails, his time of 15:20 giving him 10 seconds to spare over clubmate John Shine with Shane Collins, also Leevale, third in 15:38.
John Meade of St Finbarr’s, who led in the early stages, finished fourth 15:55 with Michael Herlihy of the promoting North Cork club fifth in 16:17.
After finishing sixth in the competitive Dundrum 10km a week before, Wexford-native McAuley had notched up a significant victory the previous Sunday over the same distance in Gorey when defeating Olympian Mick Clohisey, 31:26 to 31:36.
Local Mallow athlete Breda Gaffney, who had won her second F45 national cross-country title just before competition ceased 16 months ago, showed that she has lost none of her form when winning the women’s race in 18:26.
Jennifer Montague (Leevale) was second in 18:40 with Siobhan Daly of the Riocht club finishing third in 19:54.
Two other Leevale ladies – Nadine Forde and Meadhbh Moynihan – took fourth and fifth spots in respective time of 20:04 and 20:09.
Men 1 C McCauley (Leevale) 15:20; 2 J Shine (Leevale) 15:36; 3 S Collins (Leevale) 15:38; 4 J Meade (St Finbarrs) 15:55; 5 M Herlihy (North Cork) 16:17; 6 M McMahon (North Cork) 16:25.
Women 1 B Gaffney (Mallow) 18:26; 2 J Montague (Leevale) 18:40; 3 S Daly (Riocht) 19:54; 4 N Forde (Leevale) 20:04; 5 M Moynihan (Leevale) 20:09; 6 G O’Callaghan (North Cork) 20:43.