O'Sullivan engineers a well-timed victory

 

WHAT a difference a year makes. This time last year Donal O'Sullivan was a disillusioned young man. Disappointed that neither his running nor his studies were progressing in the manner expected, he took time out from his engineering studies in Brown University, Rhode Island. Things went from bad to worse however, and, when his running continued on the downhill slope he took himself off to Spain to teach English.

Returning to Ireland just before Christmas, the 22-year-old showed that his appetite for competition was back when he took the Waterhouse-Byrne-Baird 10 mile cross country race on St Stephen's Day, then followed up yesterday, when he displayed a surprising turn of speed to win the Oman Cup, down the main road of the Phoenix Park.

The opening mile was a very sedate affair and a group of 10 athletes were still in contention as the field swung around the Eagle Monument with O'Sullivan content to sit in behind. Shane Daly, Nigel Brunton and Killian Lonergan led the charge and it was Harvard student Lonergan who was the first to test the waters when he upped the pace slightly, but the field quickly regrouped.

James Nolan charged to the front as the finish gantry appeared on the horizon. but the downhill nature of the course offers a false sense of security. As Nolan's challenge faltered O'Sullivan seized the initiative and only Brunton was able to respond.

The Bray man appeared to be biding his time before unleashing a sprint which would take him to victory, but O'Sullivan refused to be intimidated and grimly hung on.

Brunton was almost celebrating his victory when O'Sullivan mounted one last charge which carried him over the line for a one second victory. O'Sullivan was credited with a time of nine minutes 48 seconds, with Pat Byrne of Gowran back in third place.

There was never any doubt about the outcome of the DeLoughrey Cup, with Anita Philpott proving that her recent problems are a thing of the past, as she ran out a comfortable winner in a time of 10 minutes 58 seconds, some 32 seconds ahead of Annette Kealy, with US visitor Keri Kilroy third.

Jerry Kiernan proved that age certainly has not diminished his hunger for competition as the 42-year-old powered away on the final uphill mile to win the 8km race ahead of Tony O'Halloran, with Ken Moloney of New Zealand third.

Caitriona Dowling recorded her second victory in the space of a week, as she took the women's race ahead of her DCH club-mate Mags Greenan, with Ailish Smyth taking third.