Athlone clash for sprinters
WHILE fast times and records have their place, when it comes to championships races, what the punters wants are gripping races full of drama.
Even better are the head-to-heads between old rivals and such clashes are guaranteed at this weekend's (Saturday and Sunday) Glo Health National Indoor Championships in Athlone, especially with qualification for the European Indoors in Prague next month at stake.
In the women's 60m sprint for instance, Phil Healy and Kelly Proper who have both run 7.41 secs this season, and Amy Foster slightly slower with a time of 7.47 seconds, will battle it out.
Last year, Foster won the 60m title with a time of 7.32 seconds.
She opted not to run in the Worlds, preferring to concentrate on the 100m. Her policy paid off when she equalled Ailish McSweeney's Irish record of 11.40 seconds a few months later in France.
At last weekend's British Championships, Healy, still a junior, beat Foster.
All three are gunning for the Prague mark of 7.36 seconds..
Expect drama also in the men's 400m, with places on the 4x400m relay squad to be for Prague at stake.
Thomas Barr of Ferrybank has opted out, so those in contention will include Brian Murphy, Dara Kerwick and possibly Craig Lynch. In the women's 400m, Mandy Gaunt and Sinead Denny are the pair to watch.
After running 4:15.67 last weekend, Claire Tarplee of DSD is favourite for the 1500m, though Duboyne's Sara Treacy isn't far behind with a time of 4:16.73. Qualification mark for the European Indoors is 4:14.
Ciara Mageean of UCD may also decide to run at this distance having made the 3000m qualifying mark last weekend.
Or she may go in the 800m, where she would be taking on fellow UCD student Ciara Everard.
Three runners are in contention for the men's 1500m - Danny Mooney of Letterkenny and Donore's John Travers, both with sub-3:43 qualifying times this season, and Joe Warne who has run 3:44.19. Then there is Leevale's Ciarán ó Lionard, who has been training well but stepped off the track in Boston last weekend.
In other races, some athletes are red hot favourites. These would include Mark English of UCD in the men's 800m, Marcus Lawler of St Laurence O'Toole's in the 200m, and 60m hurdlers Ciara Lavin and Ger O'Donnell. While most of the finals take place on Sunday, the 3000m races and women's long jump are scheduled for Saturday. RTé will televise a round-up of all the action on Sunday night.