Mageean set for Santry 800m test
Rio-bound Ciara Mageean of UCD AC leads a strong Irish entry at Friday's Morton Games in Santry.
After taking a bronze medal in a slow and tactical 1500m at the European Championships, Mageean will test her speed and fitness over the shorter 800m distance in Santry.
Last year's Morton Games saw Mageean winning the women's Morton Mile on her return to the big stage after a long battle with injury.
This year, Mageean aims to improve on the personal best of 2 mins 2.84 secs she ran for 800m in Belfast last month before heading for the Irish Olympics holding camp in Uberlandia next Wednesday.
Ireland's other winner last year was Karl Griffin of Letterkenny in the men's 800m and he'll have to be at his best if he is to retain that title on Friday.
Leading the strong field is World Universities champion Shaquille Walker of the USA who has a best time of 1:44.99. Also confirmed are Walker's US compatriots Mike Rutt and Harun Abda. From Britain comes 2015 European Junior 800m champion Kyle Langford. Other local entries include British-based Zak Curran of DSD who is better known as a 400m runner, and Clonliffe's Declan Murray.
An interesting addition to the schedule is the wheelchair 800m where British para athlete Ben Rowlings, who won three bronze medals at the European Championships last month, leads the entry. Taking him on is Irish marathon man Paddy Monahan, who had his place on the Irish team for Rio confirmed last week.
Race of the day could be the men's 400m hurdles, which will see a re-match between Thomas Barr and Jehue Gordan. In 2014, Barr powered past Gordon, then the world champion, for a thrilling victory. Barr's training partner Paul Byrne will also run.
Over 400m, Brian Gregan, Craig Lynch and David Gillick, all members of the Irish relay squad that so narrowly missed out on qualification for Rio, will take on a strong field that includes last year's winner Jarryd Dunne of Britain.
Expected to lead the home entry in the 3000m is Donore's John Travers, who ran 7:55.05 for 3000m indoors a few months ago. Other Irish challengers include Mullingar's Mark Christie.
In the sprints, Amy Foster runs in the women's 100m, along with Joan and Phil Healy while in the men's 100m Marcus Lawler, Jason Smyth, Eanna Madden and Keith Pike take on a field led by Britain's Deji Tobais who has a 10.18 secs best time.
Favourite to win the women's mile is the American Heather Kampf who has run 4:27.26 for the distance.