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Saturday 24 August 2019

Euro stars to face old guard

Kate O’Connor with her silver medal from the women’s Euro U20 Championships heptathlon event, left, and Sarah Healy, with hers from the 1500m
Kate O’Connor with her silver medal from the women’s Euro U20 Championships heptathlon event, left, and Sarah Healy, with hers from the 1500m

After their heroics at the European U23 and U20 championships, the younger generation of Irish athletes will take on the established stars at this weekend's Irish Life Health National Championships in Santry.

Blackrock's Sarah Healy, for instance, fresh from her silver at the European U20 Championships, is entered for a women's 1500m where Ciara Mageean is the hottest of favourites to retain the title she won last year.

Mageean continued her excellent season with a time of 4:03.70 for 1500m at the Diamond League Anniversary Games in London last weekend.

Also pencilled in for the race is Síofra Cléirigh Buttner of Dundrum South Dublin AC who has run personal bests of 2:01.67 for 800m and 4:10.43 for 1500m this season.

Cléirigh Buttner, now based in the USA with a professional athletics team, made the 800m final at the World University Games.

After finishing a brave third in the 5,000m at the European U20 Championships, Darragh McElhinney of Bandon AC is scheduled to run the 10,000m in Santry on Saturday afternoon. If he lines out, he will face tough opposition from defending champion Stephen Scullion, David Flynn, also Clonliffe, and Yared Derese of Carrick Aces.

Then there's Kate O'Connor of St Gerard's Dundalk, who became the first Irish woman to collect over 6,000 points when finishing second in the heptathlon at the European U20 Championships.

O'Connor goes in the javelin on Saturday afternoon in Santry after throwing 52.90 on the way to her silver medal.

Talented

Defending champion is Elizabeth Morland of Cushinstown AC, another hugely talented multi-eventer, who was forced to pull out of the heptathlon at the European U23 Championships.

Entered in the women's 200m is Davicia Patterson of Beechmount Harriers, an agonising fourth at the European U20s.

This could prove the race of the weekend with Phil Healy back in form after finishing sixth at the World University Games. Also entered is Ciara Neville, fifth in the 100m at the European U23 Championships, and Sharlene Mawdsley of Newport AC.

At the World University Games, Marcus Lawler of St LOT finally took a richly deserved major games medal with third in the 200m.

He looks like the man to beat in both the 100m and 200m this weekend. Rivals in the 100m include defending champion Leon Reid of Menapians AC and Travane Morrison of Tralee Harriers.

Leevale's Conor Morey and Stephen Gaffney of Rathfarnham WSAF have both run under 10.60 this season, while just over that are Israel Olutunde, Joseph Ojewumi and legendary Paralympian Jason Smyth.

In the 200m, Gaffney looks like a medal prospect having run 20.39 a few weeks ago.

Then there are the established stars. Mark English of UCD AC goes for a sixth consecutive title and a seventh overall at this distance.

As for Thomas Barr, he goes for his ninth title in the 400m hurdles with the final on Sunday (6.15). Only his training partner Paul Byrne is likely to come close.

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