Northern Ireland Athletes Set For European XC Championships and locals Set For Mighty Oaks.
Irish Life AAI National Senior XC Champion Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders / Andy Hobdell), fellow Olympian Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC / Richard Rodgers) and Scotland based Armagh AC athlete Fionnuala Ross (Dermot Kerr) are part of the senior line-up, which includes two time European XC Champion Fionnuala McCormack (Kilcoole AC). Northern Ireland is also well represented in the Junior ranks, with AAI National junior gold medallist Craig McMeechan (North Down AC / Francis Marsh) and the always impressive James Edgar (City of Lisburn AC / Heather Ardis) set to compete.
After the selection of the local runners, Athletics Northern Ireland's Director of Coaching & Athlete Development, Jackie Newton, said: ''It's great to see so many Northern Irish athletes on the squad and we fully expect them to put in great performances, building on the great work they've been doing so far throughout 2017''. The full team line-up is available HERE.
Athletics NI XC League 2017/18 (Round 4): Mighty Oaks XC
The now famous ‘Acorn Hill’ awaits athletes as they look forward to the fourth round of the Athletics NI XC League 2017/18, the Mighty Oaks Cross Country, an event hosted by Acorns AC at the Mid Ulster Sports Arena in Cookstown (Saturday 9th December 2017).
Record numbers are expected to turn out for the event, which is now in its fourth year; it has been part of the increasingly popular Athletics NI League for three years. Last year, Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) and Jessica Craig (North Down AC) secured the top prizes; both will have to make use of the on the day entry system should they wish to defend their titles.
Recently crowned NI & Ulster 10k (Road) Champion Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) will lead the charge for top honours in the men’s 4 mile event. The North West man will line up against a strong North Belfast Harriers contingent, which will include Mark McKinstry, John Black, Joe Malone and Andrew Considine – the ‘Stags’ will be hoping to further cement their place at the top of the men’s league. Neil Weir (Willowfield Harriers), Steven McAlary (Springwell Running Club), Dennis Scott (North Down AC) and the host club’s Eoin Hughes and Darrell McKee will all play a part at the front.
In the ladies 3 mile race, in-form Dromore AC athlete Laura Bickerstaff (Dromore AC) could start. Following on from wins at the McConnell Shield XC and Malcolm Cup XC events, Laura will be keen to add the Mighty Oaks XC title to her CV. However, the continually improving athlete again face tough opposition – last week it was club mate Rebekah Nixon (Dromore AC) – this week, it could well be North Down AC’s reigning Champion Jessica Craig, who alongside Rachel Gibson, Sarah Lindsay, Jodi Smith and Rio Catney, will be keen to keep their North Down AC club at the top of the league standings.
Willowfield Harriers’ Amy Bulman, Foyle Valley AC’s Martina McMullan and Beechmount Harriers’ Catherine Diver will also feature in the hunt for prizes. Suzanne Higgins (Lagan Valley AC), Joanne Foster (East Down AC), Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) and the host club’s Lisa Simpson and Leanne Sands will run well.
As part of the event, there will also be junior races. The race schedule is as follows:
12pm – Under 12 Boys and Girls 800m Race
12.20pm – Under 14 Boys and Girls 1 mile Race
12.45pm – Under 16 Boys and Girls 2 mile Race
1.15pm – Under 18 Boys and Girls 3 mile Race
2pm – Senior and Masters Ladies in Vet65 and Vet70 Men 3 mile Race
2.45pm – Senior and Masters Men 4 mile Race
4pm – Senior/Masters Races Prize-Giving