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Ireland’s next generation on show in Athlone

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Ireland's next generation on show

Ireland’s best young athletes will compete in AIT International Arena, Athlone at the GloHealth Junior and U23 Indoor Championships on Sunday January 31st as they look to lay down a marker for the indoor season and the year ahead.

Intriguingly Marcus Lawler (St Laurence O’Toole’s) looks set to double in the 60m and the 400m in the U23 age category. The 60m will be the Carlow athlete’s main focus before stepping up in distance in what should be an exciting prospect to see what marker he can lay down over the two-lap distance indoors.

Junior women's sprint races to highlight championships

The event will be streamed live by nTrai from 10am HERE and there looks to be a number of enthralling sprints contests – particularly in the women’s junior races. Over 60m Megan Marrs (City of Lisburn)

Janine Boyle (Finn Valley), Molly Scott (SLOT), Ara Freeman (Sli Cualann, Gina Akpe Moses (Blackrock, Co. Louth) and Ciara Neville (Emerald) are on the entry list.

In the 200m Neville, the European Olympic Youth 100m gold medallist, will have to take on Phoebe Murphy (Ferrybank), Sharlene Mawdsley (Newport), Aishling Forkan (Swinford) and Akpe-Moses. Mawdsley made the final of the 200m at the European Junior Athletics Championships in Eskilstuna and a great battle should be in store.

In the women’s U23 sprints Bandon’s Phil Healy will look to double in the 60m and 200m.Sarah McCarthy (Mid Sutton), who competed in the long jump in the European U23 Athletics Championships, will look to put up a contest in the 200m as well as doing her specialist event. Kilkenny City Harriers’ Sarah Kate Leacy should feature in the 60m. Tallaght AC’s Joseph Ojewumi is entered in the junior men’s 60m and 200m and will look to put on a good showing and should face stiff competition from Craughwell’s Conor Duggan in the 200m – both were members of the Irish junior 4x100m relay team at the European juniors.

Lawler looks to longer sprint distance

Marcus Lawler, as already mentioned, will be the favourite in the U23 60m but Keith Pike (Clonliffe Harriers) will be ready to pounce on any mistakes and has proven to be a good exponent over the distance indoors with a national senior title to his name. Carrick on Shannon’s Eanna Madden looks like the main contender in the U23 200m.

There are good entries in the 400m races – in the junior men’s two of the most likely include Bandon’s Scott Gibson and Emerald’s Jamie Mitchell. And of course in the U23 category there is the prospect of Lawler taking on Andrew Mellon (North Down) and Madden.

The women’s U23 400m sees Aisling Drumgoole (Raheny Shamrock), a surprise package last year, head the entries with Joanna Duignan (Carrick on Shannon) another interesting entry making a comeback from injury.

Stafford's welcome comeback with Morland making her mark

The most welcome comeback will be that of Annie Stafford (Menapians) in the junior women’s long jump having nursed herself back to fitness from a long lay-off with a cruciate knee ligament injury. She will be up against a number of good competitors – not least Elizabeth Morland (Cushinstown) who broke the national junior, U23 and senior pentathlon record last week at the GloHealth Combined Championships. Kate O’Connor  (Dundalk) and Janine Boyle (Finn Valley) will also be well in the mix.

Morland also looks like having an exciting duel with City of Lisburn’s Megan Marrs over the junior women’s 60m hurdles. The men’s U23 sprint hurdles also looks to have a good contest between Garbhan McKenna (Shercock), Andrew Creamer (Annalee) and Matthew Behan (Crusaders). UCD’s Sarah Lavin will aim to get into her rhythm in the women’s U23 60m hurdles.

There will be some top class jumpers on show with European Youth medallists Ryan Carthy Walsh (Adamstown) and Sommer Lecky (Finn Valley) in the respective junior high jump competitions

McGrath leads middle distance entries

In the middle distance Kevin McGrath (Bohermeen) shone brightly in the first round of the indoor league with a 1:53.59 clocking over 800m and heads the field for the junior men’s 1500m. In the junior men’s 800m, Aaron McGlynn (Finn Valley), Cian McBride (North Sligo) and Conall Hayes (Le Cheile) are among the contenders with a number of young athletes looking to have a say.

In the junior women’s 800m Laura Whitelaw (Mullingar Harriers), Amy Hamill (Glaslough Harriers) and Rose Finnegan (Bohermeen) will be aiming to impress while UCD’s Alanna Lally will look to put her training spell in Potchefstroom, South Africa to the test in the U23 women’s 800m. Emma O’Brien (Inbhear Dee) and Carla Sweeney (WSAF) are two of the lead entrants in the junior women’s 1500m with Paddy Robb (St Malachy’s), William O’Connor (An Riocht) and Rick Nally (DSD) leading the U23 men’s entrants. Aoibhe Richardson (Kilkenny City Harriers), Jessica Coyne (Dooneen/UCC) and Amy O'Donoghue (Emerald) head the field of the U23 women's metric mile.

Walsh the star of the throws

In the throws there’s no looking past the battle of Michaela Walsh (Swinford) and Anne-Marie Torsney (Fingallians) in the junior women’s shot put. Walsh has been setting new standards and impressed throughout the summer – not least in the World Youth Championships in Cali, Colombia. Most recently she was in Athlone playing soccer for her school alongside Aishling Forkan who should feature in the 200m. This time she will be looking to put her footwork to good use in the shot circle and she will have to be in good form to topple Torsney.

For a full list of entries click HERE

For the event timetable click HERE

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