| 10.8°C Dublin

Top field racing at Gerry Farnan

FOR many club athletes the annual Gerry Farnan Cross-Country, organised by the Metro St Brigid’s Club in the Phoenix Park, heralds the arrival of winter.

Athletes of the calibre of Fionnuala Britton and Mary Cullen (both pictured) are recent winners of the women’s three-mile race, which honours the late Sheila Brennan.

Last year’s men’s five-mile race saw a tremendous battle between Brendan O’Neill and veteran Seamus Power, with O’Neill coming home first.

With the Dublin marathon taking place a week later, predicting who will turn up on Magazine Hill is difficult.

O’Neill certainly won’t be defending his title as he’s in the USA, but Seamus Power is pencilled in, while John Coghlan of host club MSB is a race regular, finishing third last year. National cross-country champion Joe Sweeney of DSD and Mark Christie may also consider the trip worthwhile, along with other members of the squad aiming for the European Championships.

A key part of the day is the trial for the annual British and Irish Masters’ International, taking place this year in Glasgow on November 26.

With the over-35 age group reinstated for men and women, teams will be selected in age groups from 35 to 70, with the first three for teams of four, or the first four for teams of six, gaining automatic selection. Peter Matthews, a magnificent winner of the international race in Santry last November, intends to defend his title and runs on Sunday.

Although eligible to compete, Seamus Power is concentrating on the National Intercounties taking place in Sligo a day later. In other age groups, Ciaran Doherty, M35, Mick Traynor, M45, Tommy Payne, M50, JJ Murphy, M60, and the evergreen Jim McNamara, M70, are all expected to take on the dreaded ‘Munich Hills’ course.

Many times previous women’s champions Carmel Parnell, W55, and Niamh O’Sullivan, W45, are also expected. The day begins with the Dublin Athletic Board’s juvenile league races for boys and girls, followed by the Dublin U18 Championships.