Thomas Barr in the 400m hurdles, Mark English 800m, Paul Robinson 1,500m, Brian Gregan 400m and Fionnuala Britton 5,000m are all expected to take big points at this weekend’s European Team Championships in Tallin, Estonia.
Another who could make an impression is Australian-born Kevin Batt, who is selected for the 5000m having run a time of 13:45.49 at Palo Alto last April – just off his best of 13:44.44 set last year.
Batt’s parents are both from Dublin and emigrated to Australia 24 years ago. He will make his first Irish appearance at next month’s Cork City Sports. In Tallin, he will come up against a field led by Belgium’s Keone Naert who has run 13:32.83 this season, with Estonia’s Tiidrek Nurme another threat.
Australian high jump champion Liam Zamel Paez had also transferred his allegiance to Ireland but David Cussen will fill the men’s high jump slot in Tallin.
On paper, Ireland could certainly do well. Thomas Barr is by some way the class of the 400m hurdles field, while Mark English in the 800m also looks a safe bet for maximum points. In the 1500m, Paul Robinson takes on Jeroen D’hoedt of Belgium, and in the 400m, Brian Gregan could well repeat his heroics of last year. Although Gregan hasn’t raced much, of the expected field in Tallin, only Jonathan Borlee of Belgium, with a time of 44.54 secs, is faster than him this season.
If he runs to form, Tomas Cotter could make the top three in the steeplechase, while David McCarthy in the 3000m and Adam McMullen in the long jump should also make the top six at least.
Fionnuala Britton faces a tough battle in the women’s 5000m, with Belgium’s Almensch Belete running on her favourite surface and old rival Ana Dulce Felix running for Portugal. Laura Crowe has a good chance in the 1500m, where she is second only to Norway’s Ingvill Makestad Bovim in the rankings.
Bovim is one of four sub-2-minute runners in the 800m, where Rose Anne Galligan, who has a PB of 2:00.07 from last year, carries Irish hopes. In the pole vault, Tori Pena should repeat her second place of last year; only the Greek Ekaterini Stefanidi has gone higher this season, with a vault of 4.60 compared to Pena’s 4.45m.
Sarah Lavin is making steady improvement in the 100m hurdles but will need to improve on her personal best of 13.23 secs to make the top three. The same goes for Amy Foster in the 100m and Kelly Proper in both the 200m and long jump.
In other events, Christine McMahon could pick up points in what looks like a pretty open 400m hurdles, once Portugal’s Vera Barbossa and Romania’s Angela Mososanu are discounted. So also could Kerry O’Flaherty in the steeplechase whose time of 9:52.93 ranks her fourth of the field. Strong performances from the relay teams, who have European Championships qualification in their sights, would also boost the Irish points total.
Ireland finished a best ever seventh in Santry last year and have high hopes of an even better performance this time, with top five the target. The top three teams gain promotion to the Super League.
AT HOME, the second round of the National Track and Field league takes place in Athlone and Santry on Sunday. Defending women’s champions DSD topped the table after the opening round last month and look safe for a place in the final on August 3. Crusaders, who won the men’s premier title last year, will struggle with most of their top names away on European duty in Tallin. If memory serves, they will get a free ride to the final so long as they turn up in Santry on Sunday (open to correction here).
St Abban’s top the table after the first round on 124 points with Clonliffe, the 2013 champions, just one point behind. Crusaders languish in equal 13th place with Raheny Shamrock. Top eight after Sunday go through in both divisions. Lists below.
Irish team for Tallin :
Men – 100m David Hynes (Menapians), 200m Marcus Lawler (SLOT) , 400m Brian Gregan (Clonliffe), 800m Mark English (UCD), 1500m Paul Robinson (St Coca’s), 3000m David McCarthy (W Waterford), 5000m Kevin Batt, 3000m SC Tomas Cotter (Dunleer), 110m H Ben Reynolds (N Down), 400m H Thomas Barr (Ferrybank), HJ David Cussen , PV Ian Rogers (Clonliffe), LJ Adam McMullen (Crusaders), TJ Denis Finnegan ( Riocht), SP Sean Breathnach (GCH), DT Marco Pons (DMP, HT Dempsey McGuigan (Finn Valley), JT Matthew Martin ( N Down). 4×100 Hynes, McMullen, Lawler, Craig Lynch (Shercock), Keith Pike (Clonliffe). 4x400m Gregan, Barr, English, Lynch, Brian Murphy (Crusaders).
Women – 100m Amy Foster (City of Lisburn), 200m Kelly Proper (Ferrybank), 400m Sinead Denny (DSD), 800m Rose-Anne Galligan (Newbridge), 1500m Laura Crowe (Riocht), 3000m Anne-Marie McGlynn (Lifford), 5000m Fionnuala Britton (Kilcoole), 3000m SC Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle), 100m H Sarah Lavin (UCD), 400m H Christine McMahon (Ballymena & Antrim), HJ Cathriona Farrell (Craughwell), PV Tori Pena (Finn Valley), LJ Kelly Proper (Ferrybank,TJ Caoimhe King (Aughagower), SP/DT Clare Fitzgerald (Tralee Hrs), HT Aoife Hickey (KCH), JT Anita Fitzgibbon (DSD). 4x100m Lavin, Louise Kiernan (Fingallians), Niamh Whelan (Ferrybank), Phil Healy (Bandon), Catherine McManus (Celtic DCH). 4x400m Denny, McMahon, Proper, Whelan, Jessie Barr (Ferrybank), Ciara McCallion (Clonliffe).
National Track and Field League – standings after Rd 1
1 DSD 115, 2 Ferrybank 100, 3 Leevale 99, 4 Galway County 97, 5 Wexford Athletics 93, 6 Clonlifffe 89, 7 North Down, 87, 8 Raheny Shamrock 84, 9 Athletics Louth 81, = 10 Bandon AC/Kildare Athletics 72, 12 City of Derry 69, 13 Tir Chonaill 63, 14 Kerry Athletics 56
1 Meath Athletics 116, 2 St Abban’s 106, 3 Gneeveguilla 100, 4 Lagan Valley 98, 5 Sli Cualann 96, 6 Sligo County 85, 7 Youghal AC 79, 8 Le Cheile AC 76, =9 Menapians/Olympian 71, 11 Donore 65, 12 Tullamore Hrs 63, 13 Tallaght 60, 14 Shercock 9.
1 St Abban’s 124, 2 Clonliffe 123, 3 North Down 117, 4 Leevale 106, 5 DSD 101, 6 Tallaght 100, 7 GCH 95, 8 Kildare Athletics 91, 9 Menapians 86, 10 Tullamore Hrs 71, 11 Kerry Athletics 70, 12 Sligo Athletics 68, =13 Raheny Shamrock/Crusaders 66, 15 Ferrybank 55, 16 Meath Athletics 44
1 Donore 131, 2 Youghal 127, 3 Nenagh 123, 4 City of Derry 122, 5 Tir Chonaill 118, 6 KCH 112, 7 Athletics Louth 109, 8 Clare County 108, =9 Dunboyne/St LOT 103, 11 Limerick AC 102, 12 Bros Pearse 101, 13 Sli Cualann 92, 14 Riocht/Gneeveguilla 88, 15 St Finbarr’s 78, 16 Olympian 65