High hopes for County Derry squad at Inter Counties

Declan Reed.
Declan Reed.

THE National Inter Counties Cross Country and Juvenile even age group championships are set for Ratoath in County Meath this Sunday and local athletes will be among those chasing honours.

A trio of City of Derry’s top juveniles who qualified from the Ulster Championships in Rostrevor recently will make the trip south.

Sisters Clodagh and Aoife Laverty will contest the U14 and U16 races and Ulster individual bronze medallist, Amy Jackson goes in the U18 championship.

Targets will be strong performances with top 10 finish places serious options for all three.

A combined City of Derry and Foyle Valley squad will travel to represent Derry in the senior men’s Inter counties 8k.

Declan Reed and the in-form Scott Rankin are expected to front the squad which is completed by Emmet McGinty, Noel Logan, James Brown, Paddy Doherty, Pius McIntyre, Keith Shields and Chris McGuinness.

Given that the Derry county squad is not top ranked for this competition hopes are high that B grade team medals are a realistic target for the lads.

The competition, however, will not be easy and big runs from all concerned will be crucial.

Reed and Rankin are certainly capable of significant runs and will lead from the front in the six to score team race with the others all good enough to provide the necessary back up for a shot at medals.

Joe Sweeney of DSD won this championship in 2010 when it was staged on a very snowy Gransha and the man with Dungiven connections, although lightly raced recently is tipped to make a strong bid to go three in a row on Sunday.

Annadale’s Paul Pollock is another fancied starter and with places on the Irish teams at the upcoming European championships at stake a classy upfront battle is on the cards between this duo and some other contenders.

Unfortunately it looks like David McCarthy of West Waterford AC, another with big local connections, has picked up a knee injury and looks set to miss out on a crack at a medal and a European championships place.