Gregan aims for record
After Brian Gregan's sizzling time of 45.26 secs at the Morton Game, the men's 400m is certain to be one of the highlights in this weekend's Irish Life Health National Track and Field Championships in Santry.
With much of the hot young talent away at the European U20 Championships, in Grosseto, Italy Gregan is a pretty safe bet to win the race.
About the only question is whether the conditions will allow him to get closer to breaking 45 seconds. Gregan is already the second fastest Irishman and would dearly love to consign David Gillick's 2009 Irish record of 44.77 secs to the history books.
When it comes to the sprints, Jason Smyth of City of Derry, fresh from his sixth world Paralympic title, is the defending champion and the second highest ranked sprinter in the country this season behind Marcus Lawler of St LOT. Lawler pulled up injured in the 200m at the European Cup last month and hasn't run since.
Lawler, is also the top ranked 200m runner. With young athletes like Mark Smyth of Raheny and Galway's Cillin Green away in Italy, defending champion Eanna Madden from Carrick-on-Shannon AC must fancy his chances of another win.
Likewise Amy Foster of City of Lisburn, the defending women's 100m champion who tops the rankings ahead of Ferrybank's Niamh Whelan and Bandon siters, Joan and Phil Healy.
In the women's 400m, a repeat of last year's showdown between Sinéad Denny of DSD and Bandon's Phil Healy looks likely. Both have run under 54 seconds this season.
Over the longer distances, the women's 5000m on Saturday (4.25) will see a showdown between Emma Mitchell of QUB, Riocht's Shona Heaslip and Anne Marie McGlynn of Letterkenny. Although Mitchell has the fastest times over 3000m and 5000m, there's only seconds in it.
When it comes to the big names, Thomas Barr of Ferrybank has had injury worries but if he runs, is favourite to win the 400m hurdles.
UCD's Ciara Mageean, who took 1500m bronze at the European Championships last summer, is the only Irish woman to have run under 4 minutes 10 seconds, and looks unbeatable in the 1500m.
Mageean would also be a threat in the 800m, where Siofra Cleirigh Buttner of DSD is the defending champion. Other contendrs are Alanna Lally of UCD who beat Buttner at the European U23 Championships last weekend and Clare Mooney of St Coca's.
Likely to pick up more than one medal is Sean Breathneach of GCH who last year won the shot, 56lb for height and the 56 lb for distance and finished second in the discus.