The fabulous new Indoor facility at the Athlone IT will once again grab most of the attention when it hosts the National Senior championships over the next two days.
Some red hot competition is anticipated as athletes line up to sample a long overdue addition to Ireland’s athletics infrastructure, and the evidence from the few meetings already staged in the new arena suggests that this weekend’s fare will be of the highest standard.
The North West input is likely to be focussed in the men’s middle distance events with Letterkenny duo, Mark English and Darren McBrearty fancied to go well over 800m, where they could be joined by City of Derry’s Pajo Hamilton, if he forgoes a shot at 1,500m.
Connor Bradley is expected to go in the 3,000m and with last Sunday’s 1,500m pb in his legs he could be a medal challenger.
Bradley and Foyle Valley’s Cathal McLaughlin - who set a new national M45 1,500m record last weekend - can attest to the quickness of the Athlone track, as indeed can Danea Herron who picked up two Masters medals last Saturday, a Long Jump bronze and a 200m gold in the F50 age group.
The hardy outdoors runners are also catered for tomorrow at the latest in the Sperrin Harriers Winter League Trail series, set for the An Creaghan Centre near Omagh.
The 12 noon start should see another good entry for a popular series attracting runners of all abilities. Entries will be taken on the day.
Local Primary Schools
Shine at Mallusk
The strength in depth of local Primary school athletics was brilliantly demonstrated at wet and muddy Mallusk on Wednesday, when the top three team places in the NI Finals were taken by the Broadbridge, St. Therese and Long Tower girls squads and the Oakgrove boys claimed the runners-up spot in their race.
Hollybush pupil Cahir McMonagle finished an excellent fourth overall in the boys’ race and in the girls’ race there were top 10 placings for Alea Stewart of Broadbridge, 5th and St Therese’s Mollie McMonagle in seventh.
Almost 200 runners participated in each race and a marvellous display of packing saw the Broadbridge girls easily claim the coveted team title.
Led home by Alea Stewart 5th, the rest of the scoring six were, Lily Tourish 15th, Orla McGeough 18th, Anya Hockley 23rd, Aisling Walsh 27th and in 47th place, Aeisha McKeever. Mollie McMonagle led the St Therese girls to team silver and in 16th spot it was Carla McClelland who brought the Long Tower girls home in the bronze medal position.
Odhran Friel was the lead Oakgrove boy to finish in 20th and their team silver squad was completed by Joshua Rutherford 26th, Lee Sweeney 28th, Corey Walsh 40th, Eunan Stanley 64th and Aodhan Friel in 68th place.
A good day for local schools continued when Clodagh Laverty and Aoife Laverty of Thornhill were third and fourth in their respective Ulster Secondary schools championship races and St Columb’s Shane McGowan ran well for the runner-up spot behind St Malachy’s Paddy Robb in the Intermediate boys’ race.