international cast in ireland
Top athletes in action in both Belfast and Cork events
With the European Championships less than seven weeks away, local athletes chasing qualification marks will head north for Belfast this evening and then south to Cork next Tuesday.
Nine members of the Northern Ireland team selected for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow will be in action at the Mary Peters track tonight for the Belfast Track & Field International.
Raheny's Zoe Brown (pictured), whose 4.40m vault a few weeks ago has also qualified her for the Europeans, leads the pole vault entry.
Christine McMahon of Ballymena and Jason Harvey of Crusaders, who both have European qualifying marks for the 400m hurdles, will also run, as will high hurdler Ben Reynolds, sprinters Amy Foster and Leon Reid, middle distance athletes Katie Kirk and Danny Mooney, and decathlete Peter Glass.
In the 1500m, Paul Robinson of St Coca's, who has run 3mins 36.45 secs so far this season, will take on not only Danny Mooney but also Australian Commonwealth athletes Ryan Gregson and Collis Birmingham, and England's Andy Vernon.
In Cork, most races are already fully booked out for the the Cork City Sports - and one athlete on the waiting list is last year's women's 400m champion Victoria Ohuruogo from England.
Among those confirmed so far are Zudikey Nunez from Mexico and Indian record holder Povamma Raja, with Ferrybank's Jessie Barr and Sinead Denny of DSD leading the home entry.
Scotland's Lynsey Sharp, the current European champion, lead the entry in the women's 800m, where last year's winner, Heather Kaamf, and fellow Americans Phoebe Wright and Charlene Lipsky are also confirmed starters.
Local athletes Laura Crowe of Riocht, Neebridge's Rose-Anne Galligan and Ciara Everard of UCD, all chasing European qualification, could also be in the mix.
Sprinter Jason Smyth hasn't run much since his season opener of 10.40 secs last April, but he's hoping to cause an upset in the 100m, where Gustavo Machado, one of three Brazilians heading for Cork, will also run.
Spanish champion and record holder, Javier Cienfurgos who has a best of 76.71m leads a world-class field in the men's hammer.
British sensation Nick Miller who has thrown 74.38m this season and dominated the US college circuit is entered along with along with French champion, Fredrick Peuzy and top Australian Tim Drieson.
An eagerly awaited men's 400m hurdles will see Thomas Barr of Ferrybank seeking to improve on his Irish record when he lines out against top American hurdler Johnny Dutch and current world leader Javier Culson from Puerto Rico who both have sub-48 second times to their credit.
Last Friday, Barr again ran under 50 seconds to win the men's 400m hurdles at the Le Cheile International Meet in Leixlip and he remains Ireland's best chance of a medal at the Europeans.