Irish stars set for exciting Belfast IMC test
Several of Ireland’s top talents are set to get their outdoor seasons underway at this Saturday’s (May 13th) Irish Milers Club Meet at the Mary Peters Track in Belfast.
Despite it only being the second weekend of May athletes will be determined to lay down a marker for the season ahead which culminates in the World Athletics Championships in Budapest in late August.
Last year’s meet delivered some top-quality races, none more so than the women’s 800m which saw the national record fall in a thrilling race.
On that day it was Louise Shanahan (Leevale A.C.) who marginally got the better of European and Commonwealth 1500m silver medallist Ciara Mageean (City of Lisburn A.C.) to claim victory, clocking a superb time of 1.59.42.
Both athletes are expected to go head-to-head again on Saturday and will be hoping to go close, if not dip under, the magical two-minute barrier for the distance.
They will not have it their own way however as the field boasts significant depth. Georgie Hartigan (Dundrum South Dublin A.C.), Sarah Healy (U.C.D A.C.), Jenna Bromell (Emerald A.C) and Iseult O’Donnell (Raheny Shamrocks A.C) who have all medalled at national level before are listed to start along with top international talent such as Great Britain’s Isabelle Boffey.
Another race that caught the eye at the meet last year was the Men’s 400m. Jack Raftery (Donore Harriers A.C.) will hope to win the race for the second year in succession after a dominating performance at the meet in 2022. Like at the recent IUAA intervarsity championships his main challenger will be fellow DCU student Ciaran Carthy (Dundrum South Dublin A.C.). Carthy will be looking to get closer to the qualifying standard for the European U23 Championships which take place in Espoo, Finland in July.
Phil Healy (Bandon A.C.) and Sharlene Mawdsley (Newport A.C.) are the lead entries from an Irish perspective in the Women’s 400m. Mawdsley had an impressive indoor campaign clocking a PB of 51.91s, while both athletes went onto wear the green singlet at the European Indoor Championships in Istanbul in March. Healy is also entered in the 200m.
In the Men’s 200m, Marcus Lawler (Clonliffe Harriers A.C.) and Rob McDonnell (Galway City Harriers A.C.) are entered. The pair could also face off in the 100m if they opt to double up. Israel Olatunde (U.C.D A.C.) is expected to kick off his season in the same race. Olatunde finished fifth in the 100m at the European Championships in Munich last summer and holds the national 60m and 100m records.
His training partner, national 60m indoor champion Sarah Leahy (Killarney Valley A.C.), will be looking for an impressive performance in the Women’s 100m. Leahy is also down to race the 200m.
In the 1500m races John Fitzsimons (Kildare A.C.) and Carla Sweeney (Rathfarnham W.S.A.F A.C.) will be hoping to take victory. Fitzsimons competed at the recent European Indoors and is a former European U20 800m medallist, while Sweeney has won national honours over the distance both indoors and outdoors over the past twelve months.
The Men’s 3000m could produce one of the races of the day. Tokyo 2020 Olympian Andrew Coscoran (Star of the Sea A.C.) steps up a distance to open his outdoor campaign and will face stiff competition from the likes of Nick Griggs (Mid Ulster A.C.), Hiko Tonosa (Dundrum South Dublin A.C.) and Callum Morgan (Candour Track Club) amongst others. Griggs and Morgan won silver and bronze respectively over the distance at the 123.ie National Senior Indoor Championships in Abbottstown in February.
National senior indoor champion Cheryl Nolan (St. Abban’s A.C.) is one to watch in the Women’s 3000m. Niamh Kearney (Raheny Shamrocks A.C.) who won bronze in that race will also fancy her chances.
It promises to be an exciting day of athletics in Belfast.