Athletes look to reign supreme in Abbotstown
Mud and glory in Abbotstown
National glory and European selection will be at stake at the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus for the Irish Life Health National Senior and Juvenile Even Age Championships on Sunday (November 26).
The action will get underway with the U12 girls at 11:30 am (full timetable and provisional entries HERE) building to a crescendo with senior women’s 8,000m and senior men’s 10,000m at 13:45 and 14:25 respectively.
Shona Heaslip (An Riocht) looks like the favourite for the senior women’s race. Heaslip has been in fine form this season and will be joined on the start line by fellow An Riocht athlete Laura Crowe in a strong women’s field.
The first two finishing senior athletes (male/female) at the National Cross Country Championships will gain automatic selection. European selection policy HERE.
DSD have a good team with Linda Byrne, Bethanie Murray (leading U23 entrant), Maria McCambridge and Meghan Ryan but will take on the might of Leevale team which includes the Finn sisters, Michelle and Carol, Lizzie Lee, Claire McCarthy and Sinead O’Connor.
Both teams count two Olympians in their ranks with Linda Byrne (London 2012 marathon) and Maria McCambridge (Athens 2004 5,000m) running for DSD and Michelle Finn (Rio 2016 3,000m steeplechase) and Lizzie Lee (Rio 2016 marathon) running for the Cork outfit.
Another Rio Olympian on the line will be steeplechaser Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle & District) while other strong individuals include Annmarie McGlynn (Letterkenny), Una Britton (Kilcoole) and Siobhan O’Doherty (Borrisokane).
On the men’s side there could be a new champion on the honours scroll with Adam Kirk-Smith (Derry Track Club) having been in fine form at the Autumn Open. Conditions look like they will be a lot trickier from the Autumn Open where the running was firm and fast.
The heavy rainfall should see more challenging terrain with muddy underfoot conditions that could lead to the line of a cross country poem: “the left, left legged, side, sideways waltz.”
Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) will be another strong contender having run 29:20 at the Leeds Abbey Dash 10k a few weeks ago.
The Dooney brothers, Kevin and Conor, will lead a strong challenge up front for Raheny Shamrock alongside Mick Clohisey, Mark Kirwan and Eoin Strutt as they bid to retain the national team title they won last year for the first time in their history.
Clonliffe Harriers have dominated this event in recent years and have a big squad listed including the top three national medallists at the Dublin marathon – Gary O’Hanlon, Sergiu Ciobanu and Stephen Scullion.
They will put up a strong challenge as will DSD, who count Killian Mooney and Joe Sweeney among their entries, Ennis Track Club and Kilkenny City Harriers who also boast a strong line up including Eoin Everard, Brian Maher, Tom O’Keeffe and Thomas Hayes.
Some of the leading U23 entries include Killian Mooney and Eoin Strutt with the first finishing athlete (male/female) gaining automatic selection. Both U23 races are part of the senior races.
The U18 and Junior (U20) races are also combined with the first two finishing athletes gaining automatic selection.
Emma O’Brien (Sli Cualann) returns from scholarship in the US to run the 4,000m where the top ten contenders are likely to include Fiona Everard (Bandon), Jodie McCann (DSD), Stephanie Cotter (West Muskerry), Laura Nicholson (Bandon), Siobhra O’Flaherty (SLOT), Avril Deegan (Ballyroan, Abbeyleix and District), Rose Finnegan (Bohermeen), Nadia Power (Templeogue), Abbie Taylor (DSD) and Shauna Doellken O’Shea (Kenmare) to name but a few.
Laura Nicholson and Jodie McCann will be among the leading U18 athletes listed in that category.
For the boys U18 and junior men’s 6,000m, the usual suspects will include: Darragh McElhinney (Bantry), Fearghal Curtin (Youghal), James Edgar (City of Lisburn), Jamie Battle (Mullingar Harriers), Micheal Power (West Waterford), Brian Fay (Raheny Shamrock), Sean O’Leary (Clonliffe Harriers), Paul O’Donnell, Luke McCann (both DSD), Charlie O’Donovan (Leevale), Patrick McNiff (Newcastle), Craig McMeechan (North Down, Fintan Stewart (City of Derry) and Eanna Folan (Galway City Harriers).
Jamie Battle is one of the lead U18 entrants along with Adam Fitzpatrick (Kilkenny City Harriers) and Keelan Kilrehill (Moy Valley).
It promises to be an exciting day of action but be sure to bring your wellies and umbrellas.