Weekend Preview: NI & Ulster Age Group Indoor Championships, Stormont XC, AAI Games and more…
As we move into February, the cross country bandwagon rolls on and the indoor athletics season is picking up pace – this makes for an excellent weekend.
Looking ahead over the next few days, we have the NI & Ulster Age Group Indoor Championships, the Stormont XC, the AAI Games and Born 2 Run’s Antrim Castle Trail Races to look forward to! The Omagh CBS 10k & 5k should also attract a sizable crowd.
NI & Ulster Age Group Indoor Championships (Athlone, Ireland):
Athletics Northern Ireland will host the NI & Ulster Age Group Indoor Track & Field Championships at the AIT Arena in Athlone, Ireland this weekend (Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th February 2018).
Hundreds of local athletes will travel south for the event, after the decision (following consultation with athletes and coaches) to use the impressive state-of-art AIT Arena facility.
Finn Valley AC’s James Kelly will hope to replicate the form which saw him strike gold at last weekend’s AAI National Junior Indoor Championships as he lines up in his favourite Shot Putt (Under 19) competition.
Lauren Roy (City of Lisburn AC), a bronze medallist over 60m last weekend, will also be action in Athlone – the Under 19 athlete raced to a new personal best of 7.57 and will again be looking to improve on this; Lauren will also compete over 200m alongside Beechmount Harriers star Davicia Patterson.
Under 16 athlete Niamh McCorry (Annalee AC) will race in the 60m hurdles and 200m, while Anna McCauley (City of Lisburn AC) will compete in the Under 18 60m hurdles, 60m and the High Jump. Fellow City of Lisburn AC member Erin Fisher will be chasing gold in the Under 18 Long Jump and Pole Vault. Cara Laverty (City of Derry AC) will double up in the Under 16 800m and 1500m, with Enya Haigney (Derry Track Club) and Grace Carson (Mid Ulster AC) doing the same in the Under 19 category.
Local trio Oisin Duffy (Finn Valley AC), Tomas Haigney (Derry Track Club) and Adam Courtney (Ballymena & Antrim AC) are set to race in the stacked Under 14 800m. Sean Corry (Omagh Harriers) should contest a podium place in the Under 19 800m and 1500m events; Jack O’Farrell (Burren AC) will also go well in the same 1500m event.
Conor Breslin (Finn Valley AC), Murphy Miller (North Down AC), Sean M McGinley (Olympian YC), Cait O’Reilly (Annalee AC), Lauren Madine (East Down AC) and Hannah Cochrane (Lagan Valley AC) will be amongst the local athletes chasing medals at the two day event.
Stormont Cross Country (Round 7 – Athletics NI XC League 2017/18):
Also this weekend, the (vacant) home of Northern Ireland’s government, Stormont Estate, will play host to the annual Stormont XC, the penultimate round of the Athletics NI XC League 2017/18 (Saturday 3rd February 2018).
The event, organised by Northern Ireland Civil Service AC, will attract in excess of four hundred competitors. There is still all to play for in terms of top honours in the league, which makes for an exciting day of racing.
Foyle Valley AC currently lead the men’s competition, sitting on 150 points. However, Springwell RC (146 points), North Belfast Harriers (138 points) and Willowfield Harriers (135 points) are still in the mix.
On the day, Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) will lead the North Belfast Harriers charge for honours and the Northern Ireland international should be joined by Eamon White, John Black, Joe Malone and Andrew Considine.
Foyle Valley AC will be well represented, but may miss Scott Rankin, who will be in action at the AAI Games the following day. Chris McGuinness and Roy McGilloway, both of who impressed as the North West outfit won the Intermediate XC team competition last weekend, may feature. Luke Dinsmore and Rhodri Jones will line up for Springwell RC, while Neill Weir (Willowfield Harriers), runner up at the Masters XC last week, will also compete.
In the ladies race, current league leaders North Down AC (140 points), will look to Jessica Craig, Sarah Lindsay and Jodi Smith as they try to cement their place at the top. Foyle Valley AC (126 points), Acorns AC (110 points) and East Down AC (101 points) are also contenders in the race for the team title.
Catherine Diver (Beechmount Harriers), impressive winner at the Masters XC last week, will also race, as will club mate Gerrie Short. Ciara Toner (Springwell RC), Catherine O’Connor (East Down AC), Julie Murphy (Lagan Valley AC), Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) and Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers) will feature at the front of the field.
Born 2 Run Antrim Castle 10k & 5k:
Also on Saturday 3rd February 2018, over one thousand competitors are expected to descend on the stunning Antrim Castle Grounds in Antrim for the latest round of the ongoing Born 2 Run ‘Run Forest Run’ Series, the Antrim Castle Grounds 10k and 5k races.
In the feature 10k event, QUB AC Vincent McKenna, an impressive performer throughout the Series, will play a major part in proceedings. He’ll be joined at the front by PACE Running Club’s Oliver Cook amongst others.
The ladies race will be a closely contested event, with Gemma McDonald (Ballycastle Running Club), Catherine McLaughlin (Glens Runners), Jana Ross (County Antrim Harriers) and Cathy McCourt (Unattached) all likely to run. Gladys Ganiel O’Neill (North Belfast Harriers) may also make use of the on the day entry system.
Other events taking place in Northern Ireland this weekend…
- Omagh CBS 10k & 5k Road Races – CBS Omagh – 11am (Entries AVAILABLE on race day!)
Events taking place outside Northern Ireland this weekend…
Irish Life AAI Games (Abbotstown, Ireland):
Approximately 75 miles East, in Abbotstown, a plethora of local talent will be looking towards the upcoming AAI Senior Indoor Championships as they compete in the AAI Games at the Sport Ireland National Indoor Arena (Sunday 4th February 2018).
England based NI pair Leon Reid (Menepians AC) and Mollie Courtney (Cheltenham AC) will compete at the event, with Gold Coast bound Leon racing in the 60m and 400m and Mollie in the 60m hurdles. Mollie will come up against City of Lisburn AC’s Megan Marrs, who was in good form last weekend when she clocked a personal best of 8.26 over the 60m hurdles at the Lee Valley Stadium.
Craig Newell (Ballymena & Antrim AC) will line up in the 200m, while Crusaders AC duo Jason Harvey and Andrew Mellon will race over 400m. Following a strong outing in Jordanstown last month, sprinter Dean Adams (Ballymena & Antrim AC) will be looking to improve his 60m personal best of 6.85 against what should be quality competition.
Finn Valley AC’s Aaron McGlynn and Crusaders AC’s Ben Maze are both set to run in the 800m, while Danny Mooney (Letterkenny AC) will race in the 1500m. Neill Johnston (Springwell RC), Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) and Jonny Whan (1Zero1) are due to race in the 3,000m, while local quartet Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC), Kelly Neely (City of Lisburn AC), Edel Monaghan (Enniskillen RC) and Rachel Gibson (North Down AC) are part of a strong 1500m field.
In the field events, City of Lisburn AC’s Ben Fisher and Ballymena & Antrim AC’s Joanna Mills should be aiming for podium places in the Long Jump. In the Pole Vault, City of Lisburn AC pair Ellie McCartney and Erin Fisher should place well.
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.