149th National Championships set to continue illustrious history
The 149th consecutive Irish Life Health National Athletics Championships is set to continue an illustrious history as the cream of Irish athletics take to Morton Stadium this weekend (June 25-27).
A championship that looked on the brink in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic will return once again, and in doing so, keep its illustrious history intact.
Medals and those seeking to attain qualification for upcoming international competition will no doubt take centre stage, but this championship will ultimately celebrate the return of a limited number of spectators across the three days.
Each day of competition will be streamed in entirety on the Athletics Ireland YouTube channel with live coverage on RTE 1 from 14:55-17:40 on Saturday.
How to follow
- Top list for 2021 outdoors HERE
- Weekend timetable HERE
- Entry list HERE
- Watch on Athletics Ireland YouTube HERE
- Live Results HERE
- Digital Senior Programme HERE
- Live on RTE 1 at 14:55 on Saturday June 26th
Hammer time on Friday
The Women’s Hammer will be the first event of the championship down for decider on Friday evening, with athletes getting into their throws from 18:30pm. Michaela Walsh (Swinford AC) and Nicola Tuthill (Bandon AC) look likely to battle it out for the gold. Teenager Tuthill took the title in 2020 with a 60.04, a PB which she has already out-thrown earlier this year (60.67) which augurs well for the upcoming European U20 Championships.
Brendan O'Donnell (Lifford Strabane AC) and Sean Mockler (Moycarkey Coolcroo AC) had a great battle at last weekend’s U23 Championships and the two rising talents will once again be among the favourites for the senior title. O’Donnell will be looking to retain the senior crown but will face stiff competition from Ryan McCullough (Donore Harriers), Simon Galligan (Clonliffe Harriers) and Killian Barry (Crusaders AC).
The Women’s Pole Vault is the only other field event on Friday and is likely to see Clodagh Walsh (Abbey Striders AC), Ciara Hickey (Blarney/Inniscara AC), and Una Brice (Leevale AC) all in medal contention.
Friday’s track action will be all heats, led out by the one lap wonders in the 400m. World Relay Championship stars Phil Healy (Bandon AC – 3rd on Irish all-time list), Sophie Becker (Raheny Shamrock AC – 5th on Irish all-time list), and Sharlene Mawdsley (Newport AC) will all be looking to secure safe passage to Saturday’s final.
Chris O’Donnell (North Sligo AC) who was also part of the Olympic qualified 4 x 400m mixed World Relay squad looks favourite in the Men’s 400m. O’Donnell will be looking to make it safely through to Saturday’s final as he bids to defend his crown. A host of athletes will have their eyes on a podium finish including Cathal Crosbie (Ennis Track), Cillin Green (Galway City Harriers), and Paul Murphy (Ferrybank AC), but none will be taking for granted the tricky heats.
The Men’s 1500m provided the most dramatic finish of the 2020 championships, and although protagonists Robinson and Tobin are not in the line-up, the men’s race still looks to stacked full of quality. Andrew Coscoran (Star of the Sea AC) is ranked 42nd in the race to Tokyo. With the top 45 to qualify for the Games he’ll be looking to go fast this weekend having already run close to the Olympic standard of 3.35.00 earlier this year.
There is no shortage of contenders looking to make the final with John Travers (Donore Harriers), Cathal Doyle (Clonliffe Harriers), Kevin Kelly (St Coca’s AC), and Shane Bracken (Swinford AC) sure to be bang there. Charlie O’Donovan (Leevale AC) will be looking to continue preparations for the European U23 Championships, while Darragh McEIhinney (UCD AC) will be looking to sharpen for his tilt at the European U23 5000m. James Dunne (Tullamore Harriers) will also be looking to book a spot in the final which will be the last event of RTE’s coverage on Saturday evening (17.20pm).
Sarah Healy (UCD AC) has the leading time in the 1500m, with her recent PB of 4:07.12 putting her right in Tokyo contention. Nadia Power (Dublin City Harriers) and Michelle Finn (Leevale) also look set to take their place alongside Roisin Flanagan (Carmen Runners AC) who has been hugely impressive over the the last 12 months and will be a contender should she take to the start line. Greta Streimyte (Clonliffe Harriers AC) continues here preparations for the upcoming Games in Tokyo, while Carla Sweeney (Rathfarnham WSAFAC) will be looking to book another national final place.
The heats of the Women’s 400m Hurdles are the penultimate event on Friday evening where Karen Dunne (Bohermeen AC), Laura Frey (Lagan Valley), and Deirdre Murray (Na Fianna) will be favourites to make it through to the medal decider on Saturday (15.40pm).
Friday’s action concludes with the 800m heats, with the women’s event looking like the potential fireworks race of the weekend. Georgie Hartigan (Dundrum South Dublin AC) clocked a 2:00.18 earlier this year to go second on the Irish all-time list list behind Ciara Mageean and will be joined by clubmate Síofra Cléirigh Büttner (Dundrum South Dublin AC) who currently sits 3rd on the all-time list. Nadia Power (Dublin City Harriers AC) also holds an entry alongside Louise Shanahan (Leevale AC), Jenna Bromell (Emerald AC), Katie Kirk, and Claire Mooney (Naas AC), making this the MUST watch event of the weekend.
2020 champion Harry Purcell (Trim AC) and the ever-impressive John Fitzsimons (Kildare AC) will no doubt be bang there come the final of the 800m on Saturday evening. Mark English (Finn Valley AC) is also entered, as is Luke McCann (UCD AC), Roland Surlis (Annalee AC), Mark Milner (UCD AC), and Kevin McGrath (Bohermeen AC). Louis O’Loughlin (Donore Harriers) and Eoin Quinn (Mullingar Harriers AC) go in search of their second European Championship standards.
Super Saturday starts with the speedsters first out on track for the heats of the Men’s’ and Women’s 100m from 10.30am. Rhasidat Adeleke (Tallaght AC) and Ciara Neville (Emerald AC) have been fastest of those entered this year, with Adeleke’s 11.31 back in May placing her second on the Irish all-time list behind Phil Healy’s 11.28. There are several hurdlers also entered including Molly Scott (St Laurence O’Toole) and Kate Doherty (Dundrum South Dublin), while Lauren Roy (City of Lisburn) and recent U23 champion Aoife Lynch look sure to be in the mix.
The Men’s 100m looks another event to saviour this weekend with Marcus Lawler (Clonliffe Harriers), Israel Olatunde (UCD AC), and reigning champion Stephen Gaffney (UCD) all entered. Gaffney’s 10.44 earlier this month ranks the fastest time posted by those entered this year, while U23 record setter Conor Morey (Leevale) is likely to be right amongst the leaders coming into the final meters.
Aoife O’ Cuill (St Coca’s AC) comes here on the back of a gold medal performance at the U23 last weekend and will be looking to continue her European U23 preparations in the Women’s 5000m. Aoife Kilgallon (Sligo AC) and Claire Fagan (Mullingar Harriers AC) look among those who are likely to be to the fore in the first final on Saturday. Kilgallon posted an impressive 16:11.67 at the Belfast meet in May and will be looking to carry that form into his weekend. Athletics Ireland Regional Development Officer Grace Lynch (Iveragh AC) also looks set to take her place on the start line.
The steeplechasers are in action from 12.00pm on Saturday with Brian Fay (Raheny Shamrock AC) likely to be right there on the back of his 8:29.75 PB last month which saw him go 4th on the Irish all-time list. Jayme Rossiter (Clonliffe Harriers) and Liam Harris (Togher AC) look sure to be in the reckoning, while Finn Daly (Sligo AC) will look to claim the European U23 standard. Fionn Harrington (Bandon AC) is chasing the European U20 standard, having already attained the standard in 3,000m and 5,000m. Multiple champion Rory Chesser (Ennis Track) is also back for another tilt at national glory.
Three of the top 6 fastest Irish all-time steeplechases will be in action in the women’s race, where Tokyo bound Michelle Finn (Leevale AC) will be joined by Eilish Flanagan (Carmen Runners AC) and Kerry O'Flaherty (Newcastle and District AC). A big run from Flanagan will put her right there in contention for Tokyo qualification.
There is also action aplenty in the field events on Saturday with the Women’s Long Jump seeing the return of Saragh Buggy (St Abbans AC) who will be looking to add another national title to her collection. Buggy is likely to be pushed all the way by clubmate Ruby Millet and Sarah McCarthy of Mid Sutton A.C.
The Men’s High Jump sees Ciaran Connolly (Le Cheile AC) go in as the leading jumper with 2.05m this season, while David Cussen (Old Abbey) is also one who will be looking to also go over 2m in the final. Jordan Lee (Killareny Valley AC) comes here on the back of impressive performances at the World Para Athletics European Championships, and the U23 Championships last weekend.
The Pole Vault athletes will be one event which is sure to benefit from the return of spectators, with Shane Power (St. Joseph's A.C.), Michael Bowler (Enniscorthy A.C.), and Matthew Callinan Keenan (SLOT) sure to call on some crowd noise to see them eke out those last few vaults.
The WFH athletes will be competing on Saturday afternoon in what is always an entertaining spectacle. The WFH has 56lbs for senior men which will see the return of Sean Breathnach (Galway City Harriers).
Nineteen athletes are entered for the Men’s Long Jump, with Adam McMullen (Crusaders), Sam Healy (Leevale AC) and Shane Howard (Bandon) set to duke it out. Healy has the longest jump among the entrants this year with 7.59m, but it is set to be a good contest with several athletes capable of jumping into contention on the day.
From 11.40am on Saturday we will see the track finals come thick and fast, including the Men’s 5000m final (15.05pm) where Seán Tobin (Clonmel AC) comes in with the fastest time of 2021 with 13:33.93. Hiko Tonosa (Dundrum South Dublin), John Travers (Donore Harriers) and Conor Bradley (City of Derry) all look set to also be in contention come those final few leg-burning laps.
The Men’s 400m Hurdles will see the return of Thomas Barr (Ferrybank AC) to domestic action. Barr comes here in flying form having posted a best of 48.39 recently as he builds his preparations towards Tokyo. John Fagan (Clonliffe Harriers) should also go well, while Jack Mitchell (St. L. O'Toole A.C.) showed his class last weekend in securing gold in the Men’s U23 Hurdles in 52.32 and should go well.
The Women’s 400m Hurdles will follow shortly after with the main contenders hoping to have made it through Friday’s heats as mentioned above.
The 100m athletes return to the track on Saturday with the Men’s final scheduled for 16.00pm followed by the Women at 16.10pm.
The Women’s 800m division has been on fire over the last 12 months and the final set for 16.40pm promises to be one of the races of the weekend if all the mentioned athletes manage to progress safely from Friday’s heats.
If the 800m has potential to race of the day on Saturday, the Women’s 400m final could potentially run it close if Phil Healy, Sophie Becker, and Sharlene Mawsdley make it to the start line.
Chris O’Donnell will be hoping to have secured a favourable lane draw in the Men’s 400m race as he looks to make it 4 senior titles in a row, while both 1500m finals look competitive on paper with eyes likely to be drawn to Sarah Healy as she looks to secure the national title and a place on the plane to Tokyo.
Saturday concludes with the Women’s and Men’s 4 x 100m finals which are never short of drama and excitement. Nine clubs look set to be represented across the Men’s and Women’s races.
The heats of the 200m are first up on Sunday and all eyes are likely to be on the performances of Phil Healy (Bandon AC) and Rhasidat Adeleke (Tallaght AC) as they look to book favourable lane positions for the afternoon’s final (14.20pm).
The Men’s 200m looks another competitive affair with Marcus Lawler (Clonliffe Harriers), Mark Smyth (Raheny Shamrock A.C.), Leon Reid (Menapians AC), and recent junior champion Robert McDonnell (Galway City Harriers A.C.) all looking sure to be in contention come the final few meters of the afternoon’s final.
The Shot Put and Javelin are first out on the field on Sunday with Michaela Walsh (Swinford AC) and Casey Mulvey (Inny Vale AC) set to battle it out for the title in the Women’s Shot. James Kelly (Finn Valley AC) looks among the favourites for gold in the Men’s event in the absence of brother John who secured the title last year with an 18.40 throw.
Elizabeth Moreland (Cushingtown AC) and Grace Casey (Eire Og Corra Choill AC) look favourites for the Women’s Javelin title, while Stephen Rice (Clonliffe Harriers) may need another 72.73m throw (2020 winning throw) to secure gold in the men’s event. The form of Conor Cusack (Lake District Athletics) is sure to push Rice all the way, with the Lake District athlete having secured the Junior title last weekend with a 70.27. Gareth Crawford (Lifford Strabane) looks another one who is likely to be in the medal hunt.
The Women’s High Jump (Women’s) is set to start at 13.00pm where Sommer Lecky Finn Valley AC will be looking to build on recent performances. Aoife O`Sullivan (Liscarroll A.C.) continued her brilliant form in taking the Junior Women’s High Jump title with a 1.75 jump. Ciara Kennelly (Killarney Valley A.C.) was second last week and also cleared 1.75.
The first of the track finals on Sunday is the Women’s 5,000m Walk where West Waterford A.C. athlete Kate Veale will once again be red hot favourite, coming here having claimed the National 20k title earlier this month. The Men’s 10,000m Walks are up next where Jerome Caprice (Dundrum South Dublin A.C.) will be looking to better last years 4th place finish and make it onto the podium.
The thrills of the Men’s & Women’s 200m finals are set for Sunday afternoon and should prove two races not to be missed if all the likely contenders progress through the heats.
Serval athletes return for the Women’s 100m Hurdles with the hurdling division buoyed by Sarah Lavin’s recent sub 13 second performance in Madrid. The Emerald AC athlete will be back in action here in a bid to secure Tokyo qualification. Molly Scott (SLOT), Lilly-Ann O’Hora (Dooneen AC) and Kate Doherty (DSD AC) are all set to take their place.
The Men’s 110m Hurdles will see the reacquaintance of national champions Gerard O’Donnell (Carrick-on-Shannon AC) and Matthew Behan (Crusaders AC). O’Donnell took the honours in a series of races at the recent AAI Games and will be eager to take gold once again in his pursuit of a fifth national title in a row.
The endurance athletes are back on track for the penultimate event with the Men’s 10,000m. Hiko Tonosa, Cormac Dalton, and Paul O’Donnell, Jake O’Regan look among the contenders. Several athletes are also entered in Saturday’s 5,000m so there is the likelihood of a reduced field in this event.
Day 3 concludes with 10 clubs set to be represented across the Men’s and Women’s 4 x 400m Relays.