BY JOHN WALSHE
TWO top-class performances at the seventh annual Eyeries five-mile race, which resulted in both course records being broken, brought this year’s Beara Autumn Series to a close in style.
With an extensive prize list on offer – including €250 for first male and female – runners travelled from many parts to tackle the tough Eyeries circuit.
Tom Butler, a member of the famous Shaftesbury-Barnet club in the UK, reduced Alan O’Shea’s 2019 best of 25:21 by 11 seconds when finishing two minutes clear of North Cork’s Michael Herlihy (27:23), with Kris Liepins (Watergrasshill) taking third in 28:04.
Butler is currently based in Bantry and has run 14:16.30 for 5000m on the track this past season. To run 25:10 on his own over such a challenging course was a superb performance.
In the women’s race, Hannah Steeds, who also has Bantry connections but runs for the Clonmel club, knocked over two minutes off of Orla Byrne’s previous best when just dipping under the 30-minute barrier with her time of 29:59. Sinead O’Connor of Leevale duplicated her husband Michael Herlihy’s performance when taking second in 30:27, also well under the previous best, as Eileen Vitting from Trim in County Meath finished third in 33:30.
Interestingly, the demanding course on the Wide Atlantic Way didn’t seem to pose any problem for Steeds as 24 hours later she notched up another victory when taking gold at the Munster Intermediate Cross-Country at Castlelyons.
Conor Murphy of Kenmare AC took first place in the final overall standings after the four races with Patrick McCarthy in second with the women’s overall award going to Deirdre O’Sullivan of the promoting Beara club.
This final event, and indeed the overall four-race series, was a resounding success and a just reward for Mark Gallagher and his organising team.
‘Yes, it all went well, this was the first year of the four-race series, we had three in 2019 and we managed to bring Glengarriff on stream this year,’ explained Mark.
‘We made a big pitch for Eyeries to attract runners and we increased our prize pool to a total of 57 category prizes across all the ages. We’ve a lot of good sponsors, they know that we work really hard at the event and the amount of time we put in. There’s also a big effort in producing the race programme and we’re extremely grateful to them all, especially to our overall sponsors, Murphy’s SuperValu of Catletownbere.’