The Woodie’s DIY National Junior and Under 23 Track and Field Championships of Ireland take place in Tullamore today . It promises to be an exciting day of competition with many of the junior athletes hoping to secure places for the up and coming IAAF World Junior Track and Field championships in Barcelona.
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In the junior men’s sprint events, double Irish Youth Record Holder Marcus Lawlor (St. Lawrence O’Toole AC) will start as the clear favorite. Lawler has been in sensational form all season. Starting off his year with a surprise victory over 200m at the Woodie’s DIY Irish Senior Indoor Championships in February. From there, Lawlor continued his good form into the early part of the outdoor season by becoming Irish Youth Record Holder in the 100m (10.72) and 200m (21.42). Greg O’Shea (Doneen AC) is likely to pose a serious threat to Lawlor in the 100m. O’Shea recorded a new personal best of 10.87 when finishing second behind Lawlor at the Aviva Irish Schools Championships held at the beginning of June.
In the junior women’s sprints Phil Healy (Bandon AC) and Cliodhna Manning (Kilkenny City Harriers AC) could provide one of the closest finishes of the day. Both athletes have traded victories over the past number of weeks and are set to battle it out again on Sunday.
Siofra Cleirigh Buttner (Dundrum South Dublin AC) will step down in distance and compete in the junior women’s 400m. Irish Youth 800m Record Holder Karl Griffin (Tir Chonaill AC) will do likewise and test his speed in the junior boys 400m.
The junior men’s middle distance events see rising talents Shane Fitzsimons (Mullingar Harriers AC), Ruairi Finnegan (Letterkenny AC), Kevin Dooney (Raheny Shamrock AC) in the lineup in what could prove the race of the championships.
Reigning World Youth Champion Kate Veale (West Waterford AC) will be hard to beat in the junior women’s 5km walk as she continues her preparations for the IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships in Barcelona. In the field events the hammer event sees Dempsey McGuigan (Finn Valley AC) and James McCabe (Dunboyne AC) competing. McGuigan has a sensational season so far throwing an Irish junior record of 70.02m. McCabe is also in great form having twice thrown over the world junior B standard with a personal best of 67.71m. In the junior women’s long jump Sarah McCarthy (Mid Sutton AC), Sarah Buggy (St. Abban’s AC) and Sally Rose Maughan (Castlebar AC) are all likely contenders.
With no major championships for the Under 23 age group, many of the athletes involved will be aiming for fast times and good performances ahead of the Woodie’s DIY National Senior Championships to be held in two weeks time.
In the men’s sprint events, likely contenders include Dean Adams (Ballymena and Antrim AC) and Paul Whelan (Dublin Striders AC). While on the women’s side Catherine McManus (Celtic DCH), Niamh Whelan (Ferrybank AC), Joan Healy (Bandon AC) and Leah Moore (Clonliffe Harriers) should all be in contention for podium positions.
Thomas Barr (Ferrybank AC) who was recently selected on the Irish team for the European Track and Field Championships is the clear favorite for the 400m hurdles title; likely challengers on the day include Paul Byrne (St Abban’s AC).
2012 Irish Indoor Champion Brian Kelly (St Abban’s AC) competes in the men’s 800m while Sinead Denny (Dundrum South Dublin AC) leads the entries for the women’s equivalent. In the men’s 1500m Para-Olympic Champion Michael McKillop (St Malachy’s AC) will be the favorite having recently set a personal best of 3.52.19
Expected highlights in the field events include national Indoor champion Barry Pender (St Abbans AC) in the high Jump and Claire Fitzgerald (Tralee Harriers AC) in the shot putt and discus.