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National Senior and U23 Championships set for final flourish

The timetable for this weekend’s action:

The final instalment of the 148th Irish Life Health National Senior and U23 Athletics Championships is set to produce more exciting competition in Morton Stadium, Santry this weekend (August 29-30).
Many of last weekend’s winners and medallists will be in action once more with Phil Healy (Bandon) looking to complete the women’s sprints double and compete in her 12th national title. Sean Tobin (Clonmel) who was just pipped in the race of the day last Sunday in the men’s 1,500m will be hoping to go one better in the 10,000m. Of course, they won’t have it all their own way.

Four sessions
This weekend will be divided into four sessions; two on Saturday, and two on Sunday, to round off the national championships this year.
The weekend kicks off with the 800m heats  and the finals of the women’s discus and triple jump. Niamh Fogarty (Raheny Shamrock) will be the warm favourite in the women’s discus with Enya O’Driscoll, Casey Mulvey and Ciara Sheehy (Emerald) among her competitors.
Saragh Buggy (St Abban’s) will be looking to add the women’s triple jump title to the long jump she won last week with Grace Furlong (Waterford) and Kim O’Hare (Raheny Shamrock) among the medal contenders.
In the afternoon, Jai Benson (Lagan Valley), Niall Counihan (Clonliffe Harriers) and Mark Burton (City of Lisburn) will be among those competing for the podium in the men’s triple jump.
Sean Breathnach (Galway City Harriers) will have a busy throwing weekend beginning with the discus where Eoin Sheridan (Clonliffe Harriers), who has the longest throw this year, and Colin Quirke (Crusaders), subject to fulfilling competition requirements, will be chief suspects for gold.
The afternoon session sees a distance carnival with the women’s 5,000m race walk, the men’s 10,000m race walk and the men’s 10,000m. Kate Veale (West Waterford) leads 10 entries in the women’s 5,000m race walk which has a number of up-and-coming race walkers. The men’s 10,000m race walk should be exciting with training stable Brendan Boyce (Finn Valley), David Kenny (Farranfore Maine Valley) and Callum Wilkinson (Togher) all in action. Wilkinson, who competes for Great Britain & Northern Ireland, is based down in Cork under the guidance of Robert Heffernan.
Sean Tobin (Clonmel) and John Travers (Donore Harriers) both came out with silver medals in their respective 1,500m and 5,000m races last weekend. They will be hoping to go one better in a large entry for the men’s 10,000m in a field that includes Hugh Armstrong (Ballina), Mick Clohisey (Raheny Shamrock) and Eric Keogh (Donore Harriers). 

Healy looks for 12th national title
Phil Healy (Bandon) will be looking to complete the sprint double in the women’s 200m and win her 12th national title where Sarah Lavin (Emerald), Lauren Cadden (Sligo), Lauren Roy (City of Lisburn) and Sarah McCarthy (Mid Sutton) are among her rivals.  
Stephen Gaffney (UCD) was an impressive winner of the men’s 100m last weekend but Marcus Lawler (St Laurence O’Toole) will be looking to overturn that in the men’s 200m. Mark Smyth (Raheny Shamrock) will also be looking to get amongst the medals where Chris O’Donnell (North Sligo), who won the 400m, is also on a big entry list.
Amy O’Donoghue (Emerald) won her first national senior outdoor title last weekend and competes in an open women’s 800m where Iseult O’Donnell (Raheny Shamrock), Claire Mooney (Naas), Ciara Everard (UCD), Sarah Lane (Nenagh Olympic) and Ava O’Connor (Tullamore Harriers) will be looking to be in the mix.
The men’s 800m is equally open with the Raheny Shamrock pair of Kieran Kelly and Cillian Kirwan aiming to top the podium with Harry Purcell (Trim) and Philip Marron (Ratoath) among the potential contenders. This looks set to be another open contest.    
Sarah Quinn (St Colman’s South Mayo) and Molly Scott (SLOT) look among the main competitors in the women’s 100m hurdles with Sarah Lavin (Emerald) only down for the flat sprint events on the entry lists.
The men’s 110m hurdles sees Gerard O’Donnell (Carrick on Shannon) looking to retain the national title with Nelvin Appiah (Longord) and Shane Aston (Trim) amongst his rivals. Matthew Behan (Crusaders) said he wouldn’t run after winning the 400m hurdles last weekend. If he changes his mind, he will be in the mix.
Michelle Finn (Leevale) will be aiming for a fast 3,000m steeplechase to add to the women’s 5,000m she won last week. The men’s 3,000m steeplechase is very open with Rory Chesser (Ennis Track) and Tomas Cotter (Dunleer) looking to roll back the years and add another national title to their collection.

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