Eight-time national triathlon champion Eoin O’Connell, who hails from Mallow and lives in London, sprung the surprise of the day when he snatched second place from Cathal O’Connell (St Finbarr’s) at Pope’s Quay, with last year’s runner-up, Wieslaw Sosnowski from Gdansk, finishing fourth ahead of Meathman Peter Mooney (Clonard).
It was a dream realised for Roy Fahy who had been preparing for the race since last year, when he had to give way to runaway winner Alan O’Shea and then concede second place to Sosnowski.
This time, however, he made his intentions clear from the outset as he powered clear of the field inside the first half mile.
He was still in the lead passing halfway in just over 74 minutes, but Sosnowski was closing the gap, and by 20 miles they were running shoulder-to-shoulder.
“He joined me at Mahon and stayed with me until about 21 miles,” Fahy recalled. “I just maintained the pace and I think he died a bit and I just went away from him.”
“I was better prepared last year,” Sosnowski admitted. “I have only had two races back in Poland and while for the first half of the race I was feeling great, I hit the wall at 21 miles and Roy just went clear.”
It was not getting any easier as the Bank Holiday sunshine burned through the early morning haze.
“It was very hot on the Straight Road,” said Fahy. “You had a bit of shade from the trees but after that it just kept getting warmer. I was focused on winning. I knew Cathal (O’Connell) would be close enough behind because he was always going to run a solid race.
“But once I got away it looked after itself. It is great to win at home. I was not worried about the clock or anything like that. I just wanted to win this race.”
Behind him, Cathal O’Connell was embroiled in a battle royal with triathlon specialist Eoin O’Connell as they matched each other stride for stride.
“In the end he had the strength and the finishing speed,” admitted Cathal, the 44-year-old veteran of 35 marathons.
“I was just glad to get on to the podium. I have had a sciatica nerve injury since Christmas. I wore a strap today and I think it hampered my stride.
“I am delighted for Roy because I know he has put in a pile of hard work and it is great to see it has paid off. It is great to see him win in his home town.”
O’Connell lives in London and is a member of the Cork Triathlon Club. He has eight Irish triathlon titles to his credit and once held the record for the Ironman.
Yesterday he was competing in his 11th marathon — he ran the London marathon five weeks ago — and was thrilled with his second place.
“I was quietly confident I would do well,” he said. “I have good endurance from the Ironman so I knew I could dig deep but I also knew the guys here are pure runners.”
Lucy Brennan (Sligo) won the women’s title in 2:54.42 from defending champion, Tracy Guilfoyle (Kilnaboy AC) 3:01.23 and last year’s runner-up, Mary O’Leary (FC Perlach), who hails from Castletownroche and lives in Germany.
The winner is a marathon specialist who has been second Irish woman in Dublin for the past five years and won the Longford Marathon last year. “I had been out with an injury since November and started back running at the end of March so it was really a crash course,” she said.
* Dublin's Flora Women's Mini Marathon was won by Annette Kealy from Howth.