Gransha ready to host “nationals”

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One of the biggest cross-country championship events of the season, the National Juvenile Development, Masters and Intermediates, is set to attract in excess of 1,000 athletes to the Gransha Grounds this Sunday.

The event features a 12 race programme with participants from all over the country expected to take part in the event which will run between 11.30 a.m. and 4.00 p.m.

Organised by Athletics Ireland in conjunction with the local City of Derry Spartans club, this is a major coup for the city and, indeed, the North-West region and has, appropriately enough, been included in the City of Culture 2013 Sports Programme.

The 12 races include Under-11’s, U13’s, U15’s, U17’s, Masters Men, Masters Women, Male Intermediates and Female Intermediates.

The North-West clubs will be in the thick of the action and will relish the chance to challenge for national honours on their home turf. The Gransha circuit previously hosted the National Inter-Counties Championships on a never to be forgotten snowy weekend back in November 2010, but this time it looks like a dfferent kind of test as heavy underfoot conditions are expected.

Nevertheless, the competition will be of the highest quality and many top performers will line up. The most likely local front runners in the team races should be the City of Derry Male Masters squad, led by the inform Declan Reed and the combined City of Derry and Foyle Valley, Intermediate Mens County Derry selection.

The latter should feature Foyle Valley’s Scott Rankin and Pius McIntyre and the Spartans John Lenehan, Cathal Logue and Kieron Hurley, among others, and could just be good enough to get into medal contention in their 8K Championship race which concludes the day’s extensive programme.

Catherine to return?

City of Derry’s Catherine Whoriskey (Lilburn) missed last weekend’s Provincial Intermediate Championships due to illness, but she hopes to lead the local challenge on Sunday. That said, team honours look a big ask for the local women in what should be a cracking 5 kms. race.

In the Female Masters 4 kms., Roisin Lynch chases F60 honours with serious intent; Anne Paul, if she lines up, will be among the leading F50 runners and Jackie McGinley should go well in the competitive F40 age group.

An interesting inclusion on the entry list will be former N. Ireland international, Shelagh Murray, having a run out in the F40 grade.

Runners from the Donegal, Tyrone and County Derry clubs and the better known runners from the northern clubs should make for a very interesting day’s action in Gransha.

Spectators are asked to get there early and co operate with the race Marshalls who will advise on the specific parking arrangements.

The programme kicks-off at 11.30 a.m. with the Girls Under-11 1,000 metres. The Boys Under-11 race follows, then its the Under-13’s, the Under-15’s at 12.20 p.m. and the Juvenile programme concludes with the Under-17 Boys 3,000 metres at 1.25 p.m.

At 2.00 p.m. the Female Masters 4 kms. gets underway, the Male Masters 7 kms. go at 2.30 p.m. and the Female Intermediates go at 3.00 p.m.

The Male Intermediates are scheduled to bring proceedings to what should be a very competitive finale at 3.40 p.m. but there is a possibility that the time could be brought forward, so if you want to catch all the action best get to the Gransha Grounds early.