Another big cross country weekend will see local runners in top class championship action in both Glasgow tomorrow and Sligo on Sunday.
Seven Masters athletics will depart today for Glasgow’s Bellahouston Park where the annual Home Countries Masters International will be staged tomorrow and on Sunday in Sligo, it’s the turn of some up-and-coming young talent at the National Juvenile, even age groups championships, staged in conjunction with the Inter Counties championships.
Glasgow brings together the best Masters runners from Scotland, Wales, England, Ireland and N. Ireland and they will compete in all the age groups from O35 to O70.
Roisin Lynch runs in the green of Ireland in the F60 category, in fact she leads the team following her impressive win at the Irish trials in Dublin last month.
The retired teacher is in great shape and could well emulate her team silver medal performance in Dublin last November.
Jackie McGinley goes in a strong N. Ireland F40 quartet and has been in impressive form of late. She will be joined by Derry native, Rona Harkens, now resident in Belfast and running with Lagan Valley AC and the Northern F40 squad could go close to medalling in what is usually a red hot age group race.
Bridgeen Byrne is in the F45 team and is also the N. Ireland women’s team captain for the weekend.
Una Gavin in the F50 category, makes her international debut. She has been battling a foot problem which has restricted her training somewhat, but will travel nevertheless, determined to give it her all tomorrow.
Paula McGilloway travels as the F45 reserve and may well get a start in the main race, although a place in the Open race is guaranteed.
Likewise with M50 reserve, Dermot Connolly but M40 Oran McBride has been bumped up to the starting squad and will look to make a meaningful contribution to a classy looking squad.
There will also be a trio of Donegal athletes in the Irish squad, M35 Ciaran Doherty, M40 Kieron Carlin and M50 Domnic Bonner, plus Omagh Harriers M40, Stephen Duncan in the N. Ireland team and the best wishes of all local athletics fans goes out to all the North West athletes involved.
Sligo On Sunday
Sligo Racecourse on Sunday hosts the National Juvenile and Inter Counties championships and there will be a significant local interest there.
JP Williamson and Amy McDaid go in their respective Junior U20 races and will face tough opposition with many of the athletes chasing places on the Irish U20 teams for next month’s European championships.
Clodagh and Aoife Laverty came through the Ulster qualifiers in impressive style and will go in the U12 and U16 races respectively.
Medals may be a big ask but Aoife has the pedigree to push up into the top 10 and after that who knows?
Connor Duff qualified on the limit in the Ulster U14s while Amy Jackson was a very credible individual bronze medallist in the provincial U16 championship and could be a top 10 contender on Sunday.
The local contingent is completed by the Boys U18 team of Matthew Folland, Connor Doherty, Dale Kelly and Peter Melerkey.
They may not be collective medal prospects at this level on this occasion, but individually they have improved significantly in recent weeks and their performances this weekend will be watched with much interest.