After running a fine race, Jim Cleary claimed the McDonald Cup in the race run on the 1st of April. The McDonald Cup is a 4-mile race now run on the track. The race was originally run way back in 1908 in Clonee, the cup itself was missing for decades and was rediscovered in the mid 1980’s, cleaned up and presented back to the Club.
This was Round 1 of the Grand Prix ‘04 Series, thirty-one athletes took to the start. Up front, new-comers Ronan Hartnett and Gerry Hickson along with Kevin English took the field out on a very hot pace as the rain began to fall. These three remained ahead of the pack and towards the latter end of the race, Ronan Harnett stretched the field to establish an unbeatable lead eventually coming home in 1st place in 21:07, followed by Gerry Hickson in 21:20 and Kevin English in 21:35.
Next up was Eugene Coppinger, by a margin of 6 seconds from David Brennan after a race-long battle from start to finish.
It was particularly pleasing to see Clonliffe’s Honorary Club Secretary, Barry Ryan, run a very strong race to come home in 22:32. Also amongst the starters was past Club Secretary, Alan Graham.
Another Clonliffe new boy, Brendan Buck, also surprised many with a very good performance of 23:05.
The McDonald Cup is of course run on a handicap basis and when the results were worked out by the Officials, a very popular winner in Jim Cleary, was presented with the Cup, in second place was Pat Devitt, running his last race before departing to South Africa for the Two Oceans Marathon with Declan Murray, and in third place was the inaugural Grand Prix Champion, Jim Bennett.
In the green jersey competition for the fastest athlete, Ronan Harnett took the 10 points.
The next race up is the 3000m, again on the track on the 15th of April.