National glory and European selection on the line at National Cross
It promises to be a stellar weekend of athletics action as Ireland’s best cross-country runners descend upon Santry Demesne in pursuit of national glory and European selection at the Irish Life Health National Senior, Junior and Juvenile Even Age Cross Country Championships on Sunday (November 21).
Those coveted podium places will have all the more significance with the first three home in each of the senior, U23, and U20 races securing their place on the Irish team set to compete at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships at the Sport Ireland Campus on December 12th. European selection policy is HERE.
It looks ultra-competitive across the full schedule of competition and the 2021 edition of these championships is arguably the most open yet with a host of Olympians, national champions, and European championship medallists set to battle it out.
The action on Sunday will get underway with the U12 girls at 11:30 am (full timetable HERE) building to a crescendo with senior women’s 8,000m and senior men’s 10,000m at 13:45 and 14:25 respectively.
Senior Women Showdown
The senior women’s race looks arguably the most competitive national cross country field in recent years.
Olympian Ciara Mageean (City of Lisburn AC) will be joined by her European Cross Country silver-medal-winning teammates Mary Mulhare (Portlaoise AC), Fionnuala Ross (Armagh AC), and Una Britton (Kilcoole AC) as they battle it out for national honours.
Ann Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC) was in super form at the recent Autumn Open International (first Irish athlete – 2nd overall) and will be right on the shoulder of the leading pack which is sure to include ever consistent Lizzie Lee and Michelle Finn who will be looking to help Leevale retain their 2019 club crown.
Aoife Cooke (Eagle AC) will be another of the Tokyo Olympic squad arriving at the start line on Sunday full of confidence, buoyed by her recent Munster cross country title which saw the Eagle AC star finish in front of a stacked field that included Ciara O’Neill (Clonmel AC) and the returning Shona Heaslip (An Riocht) who continues her remarkable journey back from long term injury.
Aoibhe Richardson (Kilkenny City Harriers) and Roisin Flanagan (Finn Valley AC) are set to return from action stateside, while Christine Russell (Letterkenny AC) comes here on the back of recent success at the IUAA cross country championships.
Sarah Healy (UCD AC) will bid to show her class in the U23 division but there will be plenty of competition for the podium places. Jodie McCann (DCH) claimed the U20 title in 2019, while Aoife O’Cuill (St Cocas AC), Danielle Donegan (UCD AC), and the aforementioned Ciara O’Neill (Clonmel AC) will have sights on securing an automatic place on the European team.
The U20 race is likely to see the recent 1-2-3 from the Autumn Open (U20) in the mix with Jane Buckley of Leevale AC set to battle it out once again with Celine Gavin (DCH AC) and Roisin O’Reilly (Menapians AC). Laura Mooney will be a notable absentee, competing in the NCAA Division 1 nationals at the weekend.
Super Sunday Finale
The 2019 men’s race provided one of the most emotional post-race scenes in recent years with Liam Brady of Tullamore Harriers celebrating his brilliant gold medal performance. Brady will be back to defend his crown in what looks a glittering 2021 line-up.
Hiko Tonosa (Dundrum South Dublin) has been in blistering form all season and will look to carry his momentum to the grass of Santry from 2.25pm on Sunday. This year’s 5,000 and 10,000m champion isn’t likely to have it all his own way at the front however.
Darragh McElhinney (UCD AC) has looked imperious over recent weeks, taking the IUAA title before going on to cross the line in first place at the Autumn Open International. Still U23, McElhinney is sure to be the one to beat for those looking to claim one of those coveted top three places.
Irish athletics fans will be excited to see Andrew Coscoran (Star of the Sea AC) take to national cross country on the back of his brilliant Olympic debut earlier in the summer, while Ryan Forsyth (Newcastle and District AC) and Sean Tobin (Clonmel AC) will bid to use all of their cross country experience as they both look to make another European squad.
There will be no shortage of pace from the gun and expect to see Jamie Battle (Mullingar Harriers) and Conor Maguire (Monaghan Phoenix AC) to the fore as the race begins to hot up.
The U23 race looks just as competitive on paper. Raheny’s Daniel Stone beat clubmate Mick Clohisey to take the Leinster title recently and is sure to be right in the mix, while Thomas Mcstay was the second Irish athlete home at the Autumn Open International last month (3rd overall) and is sure to give his running once again.
Clonliffe look to have another strong hand for club honours, and clubman Sean O’Leary is likely to play a leading role in the battle for U23 honours on home turf.
As deep at the field on Sunday looks, a host of top Irish athletes are also set to compete in top class fields at the NCAA and NCAA Division 2 nationals at the weekend including Barry Keane, Brian Fay, Fergal Curtain, Cormac Dalton, and Peter Lynch to name but a few.
There is also no shortage of talent in the men’s U18 and junior races. One of the stars of the summer, Nick Griggs (Mid Ulster AC), will be back in action and looking to continue his meteoric rise. European U20 Gold Medallist, Griggs, will be joined on by fellow U20 gold medallist, Cian McPhillips (UCD AC) as both athletes look to transfer their track magic to the grass.
Brothers Dean Casey and Dylan Casey of Ennis Track will also be on the radar of many, with Dean coming here on the back of a victory at the Cardiff Cross Country in October.
There is sure to be plenty of drama and it promises to be a thrilling day of action as all eyes turn to a ‘Santry Super Sunday’ for the 2021 Irish Life Health National Track and Field Championships.
- Entries: Click HERE
- Timetable: Click HERE
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- Fingal-Dublin 2021 Official Website: Click HERE
- Parking Information: Click HERE
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