Ryan returns to boost DSD hopes
With the track and field season drawing to a close, club athletes and masters take centre stage at Tullamore over the weekend.
After finishing an excellent second in the European Club Championships earlier this summer, the Ferrybank club are favourites to retain their women's premier league title on Saturday. They were easy winners last year, coming no lower than fourth in any of the 19 events on offer.
A formidable team including sprinter Niamh Whelan and thrower Cara Kennedy will pick up points across the board.
Dundrum South Dublin, second last year, topped the points table after qualifying. That was thanks to the efforts of a strong group of sprinters led by Claire Bergin and Aoife MacNeill, all-rounder Grainne Moggan and Niamh Denny in the middle distances.
In a big boost to their chances, high jumper Deirdre Ryan, who improved her own Irish record to 1.93m a few weeks ago, flies in from her German base to compete for the team.
Clonliffe Harriers are the defending men's champions and topped qualification with ease this year.
Although 400m man Brian Gregan is at the World University Games, a roster that includes hurdler John Fagan, distance man Mark Kenneally, pole vaulter David Donegan and thrower Tomas Rauktys, means Clonliffe will take some beating.
DSD and Raheny Shamrock will battle hard to finish in the top three. DSD are strong in the sprints, while Dave Rooney, fresh from a 1500m personal best of 3:44.17 in Belfast, should lead the Raheny middle distance squad.
In division 1, Tallaght, with Anthony Lieghio and Tomas Fitzpatrick among its stars, hopes to improve on their third place of last year.
Raheny were best in women's division 1 qualification, although Wexford and Clonliffe weren't too far behind.
Among those lining out for Raheny should be pole vaulter Zoe Brown who soared over 4.05m at Loughborough last week, and Irish 800m champion Siobhan Eviston.
A day later, the elder statesmen (and women) of Irish athletics take over Tullamore. Expect ferocious competition in the ever-popular middle distances and in the shot putt.