Abbotstown set for high octane National Indoors
Abbotstown set for thrilling Irish Life Health National Indoor Championships
Medals, records, European Indoor qualification and much more will be at stake at the Irish Life Health National Senior Indoor Championships at the Sport Ireland National Indoor Arena in Abbotstown this weekend (February 18/19).
There promises to be some exciting showdowns in the new national indoor arena which is now bedding in fully after a number of events have been hosted on the blue-banked track. A one hour highlight show will be shown on RTÉ 2 at 8:30pm on Sunday evening.
The European Indoor Athletics Championships are set for Belgrade, Serbia on March 3rd-5th with athletes looking to rubber stamp and gain selection this weekend.
Battle for the fast lane
Ciara Neville bounced back to top form this indoor season and equalled the national senior 60m indoor record to win the national junior title in Athlone. The time was also a national junior record and European indoor qualifying time. Neville was part of the 4x100m team that finished fifth at the World Junior Athletics Championships in Poland last summer and will be aiming to add the national 60m title to her CV. Others set to feature include Joan Healy (Bandon) and Molly Scott (SLOT)
In the men’s 60m Dean Adams (Ballymena and Antrim), Christopher Sibanda (Clonliffe Harriers), Leon Reid (Menapians), Christian Robinson (City of Lisburn) and Leo Morgan (Clonliffe Harriers) will all be battling to be Ireland’s fastest man. In the 200m Sibanda and Reid are down to return for the 200m and will face, amongst others, Eanna Madden (Carrick on Shannon) and David McDonald (Menapians)
Rising star Sharlene Mawdsely (Newport) is in the women’s 200m but should be pushed hard by Sarah McCarthy (Mid Sutton).
Catherine McManus (Dublin City Harriers) has been one of the most active athletes this indoor season and should be in contention for medal while also being one of the favourites for gold in the women’s 60m hurdles alongside Elizabeth Morland (Cushinstown) and Lily-Ann O’Hora (Dooneen).
Healy and Denny set for exciting 400m duel
Sinead Denny (DSD) and Phil Healy (Bandon) are set for an exciting duel in the women’s 400m. Denny ran 53.73 under the European indoor standard (53.75) last weekend in Vienna and. Healy’s top end speed is in fine fettle having run 7.31 for the 60m and just outside the Irish record of 7.30 seconds. She also held off Denny at the AAI Games – it should prove to be one of the races of the championships with the Bandon bullet looking for the European Indoor 400m standard to go alongside her 60m standard.
Luke Lennon-Ford, Brian Gregan (both Clonliffe Harriers), Richard Morrissey (Crusaders), previous champion Dara Kervick (Clonliffe Harriers) and Brandon Arrey (Blarney/Inniscara) will be in the men’s 400m which could spark fireworks.
Reynolds and O’Donnell to face off in 60m hurdles
Ben Reynolds (North Down) and Gerard O’Donnell (Carrick on Shannon) are set to face off one more time over the 60m hurdles. Reynolds has his European Indoor standard (7.80) from the AAI Games with 7.78 while O’Donnell will be looking to dip under the standard and snatch gold.
Big name middle distance entries
Ciara Mageean (UCD) is entered for the 800, 1500m and 3,000m but is still undecided on what event she will run and will decide closer to the weekend with her coach Jerry Kiernan.
Interestingly Fionnuala McCormack (Kilcoole) is on the entry list for the 3,000m where Emma Mitchell (Queens University) who has been in excellent form over 1500m and 3,000m is also listed. Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle) ran the 1500m European indoor standard at the Athlone International and is listed for the 1500m and 3,000m.
Ellie Hartnett (UCD), Nadia Power (Templeogue) and Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny) should be among those to feature in the women’s 1500m while Erin McIlveen (City of Lisburn) will be one the favourites for the women’s 800m with Fiona Kehoe (Kilmore), who is second on the season’s list, Alanna Lally (UCD), Amy O’Donoghue (Emerald) and Rose Finnegan (Bohermeen).
Paul Robinson (St Coca’s) is on the road back to fitness having run a 4:02 mile in Athlone. He is entered in the 1500m and 3,000m but it likely to favour the longer event in Abbotstown. Eoin Everard (Kilkenny City Harriers) is the defending champion in both events but is likely just to choose one as is John Travers (Donore Harriers). Matthew Bergin (DSD) is also likely to feature in the men’s 3,000m.
National U23 champion Kevin Kelly (St Coca’s) should also be a contender for a medal in the 1500m.
Kieran Kelly (Raheny Shamrock) has been will be looking to win his first national senior title in the 800m with Niall Touhy (Ferrybank) and Kevin McGrath (Bohermeen), who finished an agonising fourth at the European Youth Athletics Championships, those most likely to challenge for the top spot.
Oympians in the Walks
Alex Wright (Leevale) and Brendan Boyce (Letterkenny) are in the men’s 5,000m. Wright will be the favourite having won the Slovakian championships and going second on the Irish all-time list behind none other than race walking legend Robert Heffernan (Togher). An interesting entry in the women’s 3,000m walk is former world youth champion Kate Veale who has been building back to fitness.
Shane Howard (Bandon) leads the men's long jump entries with a best of 7.53m while Sarah McCarthy (Mid Sutton) is the clear favourite in the women’s long jump – half a metre clear ahead of any woman on the 2017 season’s list.
Lecky looks for High jump title
Sommer Lecky (Finn Valley) has been in good form this season having cleared 1.80m with Emily Rogers (St Peter’s) among those looking to challenge her for gold. Ryan Carthy Walshe (Adamstown) will be in search of gold in the men’s high jump
Buggy favourite for Triple jump
Saragh Buggy has been making has continued to make waves in the triple jump since the summer where she set an U23 record. This indoor season she got out to 13.05m to win the Universities title and then went even further to 13.08m to snag the silver at the British Championships which incorported their European Indoor trials.
In the men’s triple jump Antony Daffurn (St Ronan’s) tops the season’s list and will have to face national junior record holder Jordan Hoang (Tullamore Harriers), Alan Kennedy (North Down) and Niall Counihan (Clonliffe Harriers).
Houlihan and McCartney eye Pole vault titles
Thomas Houlihan looks like the favourite in the men’s pole vault having set a University record of 4.71m recently. Ellen McCartney (City of Lisburn) and 16-year-old Emma Coffey (Carraig na Bfhear) will battle it out in the women’s pole vault alongside Claire Wilkinson (Ballymena and Antrim).
Kelly and Frattaroli look the strongest in the Shot Put
John Kelly (Finn Valley) has been in excellent form this season setting a Donegal record of 17.49m and with the absence of Sean Breathnach (Galway City Harriers) is the favourite for the event.
Alana Frattaroli (Limerick) is the favourite in the women’s shot put with Laura McSweeney (Bandon) the next highest on the season’s list entered.
For the Irish top list for 2017 click HERE
You can purchase tickets for the event HERE