Weekend Preview:  Future stars set for headlining weekend…

Weekend Preview:  Future stars set for headlining weekend…

Last weekend it was (quite rightly) all about the NI & Ulster Senior Championships and our current crop of athletic stars – a week later and our rising stars dominate the preview.

It’s an excellent comparison to make, given that it shows the emergence of local talent – these soon to be household names will battle it out for honours at the NI & Ulster Age Group Championships; some will also quite literally take on the world in Italy!  It’s sure to be an excellent weekend.

In terms of senior action, the latest instalment of the NIMRA Championship, the Flagstaff to Carlingford Mountain Race, will be the highlight.

NI & Ulster Age Group (Under 14 to Under 17) Track & Field Championships:

Junior athletes will take centre stage as Athletics Northern Ireland host the NI & Ulster Age Group (Under 14 to Under 17) Track & Field Championships at the Mary Peters Track in Belfast this weekend (Saturday 16th June 2018).

Amongst those chasing gold will be a large number of NI & Ulster Age Group Indoor Champions.

Emerging stars Matthew Willis (Lagan Valley AC), Dylan McBride (Willowfield Harriers), Cara Laverty (City of Derry AC), Finn O’Neill (City of Derry AC), Kate Monteith (City of Lisburn AC), Niamh McCorry (Annalee AC), Finlay Stewart (City of Derry AC) and Jordan Cunningham (City of Lisburn AC) should feature prominently.

Oisin Duffy (Finn Valley AC), Sean M McGinley (Olympian YC) and Victoria Lightbody (City of Lisburn AC) will also be in the mix for medals on what should be an excellent day of competition.

Under 17 athlete Matthew Willis will compete over 400m and 800m and will challenge for gold in both.  The always impressive Dylan McBride will be keen to add the Under 16 800m title to his indoor 1500m from earlier this year, while Cara Laverty should lead the way in the girl’s equivalent.

Multi-event athletes Finn O’Neill, Niamh McCorry and Finlay Stewart will have a busy day.  Finn will compete in the Under 14 800m, Long Jump and High Jump, while Under 16 athlete Niamh will line up in the 80m, 75m hurdles and High Jump – Under 15 competitor Finlay will look forward to 80m hurdles, 200m and Long Jump.

In-form athlete Jordan Cunningham should make the podium in the Under 17 Long Jump and 100m hurdles.

City of Lisburn AC’s Victoria Lightbody (Under 17), Olympian YC’s Sean M McGinley (Under 16) and City of Derry AC’s Oisin Duffy (Under 14) will all race over 800m.  Megan Briggs (North Down AC), Yasmin O’Leary (Oriel AC), Jamie Shanley (Shercock AC) and Ben Acheson (Willowfield Harriers) will also compete over 800m in their respective age groups.

Bethany Nixon (Dromore AC), Bryanna Marie Catney (North Down AC) and Katie Devlin (City of Derry AC) will contest the Under 17 2,000m Steeplechase, while North Down AC’s Murphy Miller will race in the Under 17 3,000m Steeplechase.

In the sprints and hurdles, Tony Craig (Lagan Valley AC), Conall Mooney (Annalee AC), Aideen Drury (Shercock AC), Elvis Okoh (Letterkenny AC), Alice Rodgers (Ballymena & Antrim AC) and Tir Chonaill trio Laoise McGonagle (Tir Chonaill AC), Ben Campbell and Rachel Gallagher will all be worth watching.

In the field, other athletes who will challenge for top honours include Alex Anderson (Tir Chonaill AC), Ross Henderson (Lifford Strabane AC), Amber Gallagher (Rosses AC), Aoife Giles (Cranford AC), Casey Mulvey (Innyvale AC), Teresa Mullen (Cranford AC) and Katie Donohoe (Annalee AC).

A provisional timetable and further details of the event are available HERE.  Start lists for the event are available HERE.

WMRA World Youth Cup Mountain Running Championships:

Yesterday, Thursday 14th June 2018, seven of Northern Ireland’s top junior mountain runners departed for Lanzada, Italy, for the 13th edition of the World Mountain Running Association’s (WMRA) World Youth Cup (Saturday 16th June 2018).

Located in the far North of Italy, right on the Swiss border, it is a spectacular alpine village surrounded by high mountains and alpine meadows.  In excess of one hundred athletes are competing from across Europe and the USA.

The course is a looped course, consisting of steep single track climbs out of the town onto the hillside, before a fast descent again by largely single track, through the town for lap two. Total distance for the 2 laps is 4.3km and approximately 290m of ascent.

Last year the Northern Ireland team placed 11th from 17 teams, having placed 15th the year previously.  Expectations are high that this year’s team can break into the top 10.

The Northern Ireland Under 18 men’s team consists of the following runners:

Jared Martin of Scrabo Striders – winner of the trial held in April. Jared has consistently been placing in the top 12 at the Hill & Dale Series, causing many of our top seniors a worrying glance. He also was overall winner of this year’s Born to Run 5km Series.

Next up is the first of our two St Malachy’s AC athletes, Conall McClean. This is Conall’s second season on the team, having placed top Northern Ireland athlete at the 2017 Junior Home International in Peebles, Scotland. Conall has been in dominate style in U18 track distance running this season, winning Ulster Schools 5000m, placing 2nd in 5000m at Irish Schools and winning last weekend at the NI & Ulster U18 Championships over 1500m. He also showed his mountain skills placing 2nd in the Irish U20 trial, earning a place on the Irish team destined for this Summer’s European Championships.

On that same Irish team, Conall will be joined by fellow St Malachy’s AC athlete Tony McCambridge. Tony placed second to Conall at both Ulster Schools 5000m and the European U20 Mountain trial, but Tony is also the Current NIMRA Junior Athlete of the Year after placing 4th at the UK Inter Counties Fell Running Championships in 2017.

Finally, to the newest mountain running face on the team, Gareth Campbell of Willowfield Harriers. There must be something about Steeplechase as every year a Steeplechaser makes the Northern Ireland junior mountain running team. Gareth won Ulster Schools 2000m SC and placed 4th in Irish Schools.

These four Under 18’s will make for the most closely matched team Northern Ireland has ever sent to the World Youth Cup and should therefore place well in the team standings.

But it is not just about the boys! Here come the girls…

For the first time ever at the Youth Cup, Northern Ireland are able to send a girls team!

The team is headed up by Ella Quinn of Omagh Harriers. Ella started her season by placing 7th at Ulster Schools XC, before heading to the track, placing 7th in the Irish Schools Steeplechase.

She is joined by Aoife McGrath, from Finn Valley AC. Aoife like her teammate, started the year with a competitive schools XC season, qualifying for Irish Schools. She followed that up by being selected at the NIMRA Junior Mountain Running Championships in April. Aoife too, took to the track winning her district schools 3000m. Aoife has also taken to the roads, placing 3rd Senior Woman in the Gemma McHale 5km.

The final member of the girl’s team has come from a very different route to the others. No Track running for Rachel Collins of Dromore AC, rather Orienteering is her discipline of choice. Rachel is no less than the current Irish U18 middle distance champion.

Full start lists for the event are available HERE.

Flagstaff to Carlingford Mountain Race:

On Sunday 17th June 2018, local mountain runners will take on Race 5 of the Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) Championships, the Flagstaff to Carlingford Mountain Race.

The event, organised by Armagh AC, will cover an 11 mile course with approximately 3,000m of ascent.

On a course where numerous runners have got themselves lost in poor visibility, local knowledge will be a key factor, as will navigational skill.

At the front end, William McKee (Mourne Runners), Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) and Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC) should start and if they do, will play a prominent part in proceedings.

Similarly, given their experience, Jonny Steede (Glens Runners), David Hicks (Newcastle AC) and Colm Murtagh (Newcastle AC) should be there or there abouts.  Paul McAnespie (Armagh AC), Timothy Johnston (Mourne Runners), Connor Reid (Ballymena Runners) and Alex Brennan (Springwell RC) will also place well.

In the ladies race, the dominant Esther Dickson (Newry AC) will prove hard to beat based on recent form.  However, as always, Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC), Martsje Hell (North Belfast Harriers) and Sarah Graham (Mourne Runners) will make things difficult for the pre-race favourite.

Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC), Karalee Porter (Mourne Runners) and Elizabeth Wheeler (Club Unknown) will all finish well up the field if they race.

Other events taking place in Northern Ireland this weekend…

Saturday 16th June 2018:

  • Lismore 10k: Lismore Comprehensive School – 12pm (Entries AVAILABLE on race day!)
  • Mountfield 5 mile & 5k: Main Street, Mountfield – 11am (Entries AVAILABLE on race day!)


As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty five parkrun events will take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.