NI and Ulster Championship Weekend
21 February 2019
Rio Olympian Marathon runner Breege Connolly and UK Masters champion Mark McKinstry are firm favourites for this weekend's well supported NI & Ulster Senior Cross Country Championships at Lurgan Park on Saturday 23rd February 2019.
Breege is currently aspiring to qualification for next summer’s World Championships in Doha and as part of these plans, her racing programme has included 20th place in last month's IAAF Northern Ireland International Cross Country at the Billy Neill Centre of Excellence, Dundonald. She was the first NI finisher and followed this with a PB at the AXA Raheny 5 Mile Road Race.
Connolly will be joined by Commonwealth Games athlete, Emma Mitchell (Unattached) and North Down AC pair, Jessica Craig and Rachel Gibson as well as Beechmount Harriers’ duo Catherine Diver and Sarah Lavery.
Emma Mitchell is the current Northern Ireland 5,000m and 10,000m record holder and will make her marathon debut in London in April. She made her Half Marathon debut at the Great North Run in September, finishing in an impressive 74mins and 38 seconds.
A year ago Jessica Craig gained bronze, after sustaining an ankle injury in a time of 24:44. She will no doubt be aiming higher this year, along with her team mate Rachel Gibson, who has been 2nd place two years in a row.
North Down should retain their stranglehold on the team title as they will also have the services of Katie Moore and Sarah Grant.
In the Men's 12k event North Belfast Harrier's Mark McKinstry should secure the NI & Ulster title after finishing in 2nd place an impressive 4 times. At the Northern Ireland International Mark finished an outstanding 13th after mixing in with some world class Africans early on. Last year’s winner, Declan Reed (City of Derry Spartans AC) will also be contending for the top spot.
McKinstry will be supported by team mates Conan McCaughey and Conal McCambridge with North Belfast Harriers the favourites for the team award.
Other athletes expected to feature include Newcastle's Seamus Lynch and Foyle's Chris McGuiness who were 5th and 6th last year plus North Down AC's Craig McMeechan and Ryan Holt of Willowfield Harriers.
Elsewhere this weekend…
On the track junior athletes will be competing at the NI & Ulster Age Group Indoor Championships at the National Indoor Campus, Abbottstown. The Championships will take place across two days, Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th February with a full timetable of events.
Athletes will be competing not only for the NI & Ulster titles, but also for qualifying spots in the Irish Life Health Juvenile Indoor Championships on 30th, 31st March & 6th April 2019.
City of Derry Spartans athletes and AAI Indoor Champions Finn O’Neill and Aela Stewart will be hoping to replicate last year’s success as they take on the 800m once again.
Finn Valley AC’s Aine Kerr won the All Ireland’s triple jump last year, jumping 11.03m and will return this year to reclaim her title.
Other athletes looking to follow on last year’s successes will be Kate Fenlon (North Down AC) in the U13 competition, Aine Corcoran (Shercock AC) in the U19 Girls, Rachel Gallagher (Tir Chonaill AC) in the U16 Girls, Christopher Kearns (Finn Valley AC) in the U19 Boys, Ross Henderson (Lifford Strabane AC) in the U17 Boys, Joel Chambers (Loughview AC) in the U16 Boys and Ben Campbell (TIr Chonaill Ac) in the U16 Boys.
Find the full Provisional Timetable here.