A festival of true competition set for Santry
Fortune favours the brave
National glory, international ranking points and competition in its rawest form will be on show once more this weekend at the Irish Life Health National Athletics Championships in Morton Stadium (July 27/28).
The combination of household names such as Thomas Barr (Ferrybank), Ciara Mageean (UCD), Mark English (UCD) and Phil Healy (Bandon) will compete alongside rising underage internationals and Ireland’s best club athletes.
Final selections for the European Team Championships on August 9-11 have not been confirmed either so that should add extra spice to the weekend’s competition.
Sprints in depth
Gina Akpe Moses (Blackrock Louth), Patience Jumbo Gula (St Gerard’s Dundalk), Ciara Neville (Emerald), Phil Healy (Bandon) and Molly Scott (SLOT) are among those listed in the 100m. The depth is impressive in this event with Healy the Irish record holder taking on a host of internationals – Neville and Scott both competed in the final of the 100m at the European U23 championships two weeks ago.
Similarly, in the 200m, Phil Healy, Ireland’s fastest woman, will have to take on Sharlene Mawdsley (Newport), Ciara Neville, Aoife Lynch (Donore Harriers) and Davicia Patterson (Beechmount Harriers).
The men’s short sprints also have excellent depth. The men’s 100m includes Joseph Ojewumi (Tallaght), Jason Smyth (Derry Track Club), Marcus Lawler (SLOT), Mark Smyth (Raheny Shamrock) and Stephen Gaffney (Rathfarnham WSAF) on the entry list.
In the 200m Marcus Lawler, who won bronze at the World University Games, will face off against Leon Reid (Menapians) and Stephen Gaffney. Lawler will be keen to win the national title over the half lap but Reid is a fearsome form and Gaffney heads the season list with a massive pb of 20.39 in Kortrijk, Belgium a couple of weeks ago.
One lap wonders
Sharlene Mawdsley will start as favourite in the women’s 400m having finished 7 at the European U23 Championships in that event but should face stiff competition from Sophie Becker (St Joseph’s) who was just one place off making that final.
Christopher O’Donnell (North Sligo) heads the men’s 400m list and he will be keen to win a national title among a field of similar strength in depth in the 47-48 second range.
Sprint hurdles and Barr to star in long hurdles
The women’s 100m hurdles has seen a surge in all-round depth this year and Sarah Lavin (UCD), fourth in the World University Games, will be aiming to fend off Molly Scott (SLOT), Sarah Quinn (St Colman’s South Mayo), Kate Doherty (DSD) and Lily-Ann O’Hora (Dooneen).
The men’s 110m hurdles looks like being another duel between Gerard O’Donnell (Carrick on Shannon) and Matthew Behan (Crusaders).
Nessa Millet (St Abban’s) has had a breakthrough season in the 400m hurdles running 57.29 seconds and will start as favourite in the women’s 400m hurdles with the likes of Deirdre Murray (Na Fianna) chasing her down.
There will be no looking past Thomas Barr (Ferrybank) in the men’s 400m hurdles who has had a most productive season on the Diamond League circuit. He will be looking to add another national title to his haul with his customary beaming smile.
Middle distance manoeuvring
Some middle-distance athletes have entered in multiple disciplines but expect Mark English (UCD) to reign supreme once more in the men’s 800m with the likes of John Fitzsimons (Kildare) and Zak Curran (DSD) his chief contenders.
The women’s 800m could be stacked if Siofra Cleirigh Buttner (DSD), Ciara Mageean (UCD), Claire Mooney (UCD) and Louise Shanahan (Leevale) all run.
European U23 800m bronze medallist Nadia Power (Templeogue) is only listed in the 1500m where she could face Siofra Cleirigh Buttner (DSD), Ciara Mageean (UCD) and European U20 silver medallist Sarah Healy (Blackrock) amongs others.
Andrew Coscoran (Star of the Sea) heads the season’s list in the men’s 1500m. The field has good depth with returning national champion John Travers (Donore Harriers) listed along with the likes of Luke McCann (DCH), Cathal Doyle (Clonliffe Harriers), Eoin Pierce (Clonliffe Harriers) and Fearghal Curtin (Youghal) who have had good breakthroughs this year.
Going the distance and on the ‘chase
Fionnuala McCormack (Kilcoole) could be the star attraction in the distance events as she’s listed in the women’s 5,000m along with her sister Una Britton (Kilcoole) and Leevale’s Michelle Finn.
Hiko Tonosa (DSD) will be looking to go from silver to gold this year in the men’s 5,000m with Ryan Forsyth (Newcastle) not currently on the entry list.
In the men’s 10,000m Stephen Scullion (Clonliffe Harriers) will be looking to defend the national title with Mick Clohisey (Raheny Shamrock) among those looking for podium positions.
Michelle Finn (Leevale) heads the women’s list in the women’s 3,000m steeplechase while Brian Fay (Raheny Shamrock) is marginally ahead of Jayme Rossiter (Clonliffe Harriers) on the men’s seasons lists.
Niamh O’Connor (Celbridge) will be in search of her first national senior title in the women’s 5,000m race walk with Kate Veale (West Waterford) looking to retain her title.
Alex Wright (Leevale) should be the favourite in the men’s 10,000m walk with an elite field of David Kenny (Farranfore Maine Valley), Cian McManamon (Westport), and Brendan Boyce (Finn Valley).
Show of strength in the Throws
Eric Favors (Raheny Shamrock) has excelled in the shot put circle this season, with a best of 19.20m, with a lot competition for places on the podium including veteran Sean Breathnach (Galway City Harriers), and the Kelly brothers of Finn Valley, John and James.
Michaela Walsh (Swinford) will look to continue her medal haul in the throws as she competes in the shot put, hammer and 28lbs weight for distance.
Niamh Fogarty (Raheny Shamrock) is fresh from her excellent 7th place in the women’s discus final at the European U23 Championships and will be aiming to top the women’s podium in that event.
Marco Pons (DMP) will be looking to hold off Eoin Sheridan (North Westmeath) and Eric Favors in the men’s discus.
Multi-event star, Kate O’Connor (St Gerard’s Dundalk), who won silver in the European U20s in the heptathlon, is listed in the women’s javelin with Stephen Rice (Clonliffe Harriers) heading the men’s rankings.
Owen Russell (St Andrew’s) heads good depth in the men’s hammer that includes Killian Barry (Crusaders), Sean Mockler (Moycarkey Coolcroo) and Adam King (Iveragh).
Jumping for new heights
Sommer Lecky (Finn Valley) will face good competition in the women’s high jump from Philippa Rogan (Sli Cualann) while Nelvin Appiah (Longford) will be bringing his customary colour and showmanship to the men’s high jump which contains a fairly even spread of 2m jumpers.
Saragh Buggy (St Abban’s) will be looking to double in the women’s triple jump and long jump. Young contenders such as her clubmate Ruby Millet will challenge her in the long jump.
The men’s long jump is another event to have increased in depth with Adam McMullen (Crusaders) the man with the best pb. He is still coming back to form from a serious achilles injury so has a number of jumpers looking to beat him including Sam Healy (Leevale), Colm Bourke (Raheny Shamrock) and Shane Howard (Bandon).
Ellen McCartney (City of Lisburn) has been in excellent form this season in the women’s pole vault setting nation u23 records in the event. Orla Coffey (Carraig-Na-Bfhear) is another young jumper who has been in good form this season.
The men’s pole vault has a good spread of contenders also with Michael Bowler (Enniscorthy), who has been setting new marks in the decathlon, one of the most likely suspects.
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