ATHLETICS: Big Cross Country weekend starting in Greenmount

Foyle Valley's Martina McMullan.
Foyle Valley's Martina McMullan.

The big focus over this weekend will be on Saturday’s Antrim International cross country meeting in Greenmount with local runners in both representative and club action.

The Raphoe 5K has a 10am start on Sunday morning and this should grab the attention of the local road running fraternity.

Declan Reed and Catherine Whoriskey are named in the NI senior squads for Saturday and Fintan Stewart, fresh from his Celtic International team silver with the Ulster team last weekend in Glasgow, will line out on Saturday in the Ireland U17 development squad.

Catherine Whoriskey wins her first International vest and will join the Rio bound steeplechaser Kerry Harty and Bambridge AC’s Emma Mitchell in the NI women’s squad.

They will face some top class Irish, English, Scots and Welsh opposition plus a bunch of top African and European athletes in the Women’s 5.6K race on the testing Greenmount course.

A real test for the emerging Spartan then and a valuable outing in advance of her mooted crack at next weekend’s National Intermediate championships in Dundalk and then the Provincial senior championships in Lurgan on 20th February.

Declan Reed joins Paddy Hamilton and Seamus Lynch in the NI men’s squad and will use the Greenmount race as a serious preparation in advance of defending his National masters individual title in Dundalk and the Provincial senior title in Lurgan.

He has been running well on the country this season and is hopeful of improving over the next three major outings.

Several other local athletes will line up in the senior races on Saturday with the Foyle Valley male and female quads both hoping to do enough to retain their serious interest in the NI Cross Country League honours.

The Valley boys top the Mens table with their women sitting in second in theirs.

Scott Rankin is expected to lead the male purple vests while their females will look to Martina McMullan and Sarah Lindsay to front their challenge.

Alan Bogle and Greg Roberts are also likely to be among the leading local finishers.