Athletics: Big weekend for local athletes

There are cross country, road and championship indoor competitions this weekend.
There are cross country, road and championship indoor competitions this weekend.

An action packed weekend includes cross country, road and championship Indoor competition and local athletes are expected to be involved at three venues Stormont, Dungiven and Magherafelt.

Magherafelt’s Meadowbank Arena will host the NI & Ulster Age Group Indoor championships on both Saturday and Sunday with provincial honours and qualification for the All Irelands up for grabs across age groups from U12 to U19.

Local clubs will all have athletes chasing success and if previous years are the gauge then silverware and big performances are on the cards.

The Stormont grounds host the annual Civil Service cross country races on Saturday.

It will feature as the penultimate ANI XC League race of the season and will therefore be of interest to both Foyle Valley and City of Derry Spartans runners.

The Spartans squads are challenging for League honours and expect to field strong Male and Female teams to maintain their aspirations for top spots in what has become a head to head with the Newcastle AC men and the Springwell women.

The female red vests hold a slender one point lead going into Saturday and while they may miss a couple of regulars in Stormont the squad is on a high with back to back wins at Coleraine and Irvinestown in the last two weeks and will be keen to at least match their Springwell rivals in advance of the final League race in Lurgan two weeks hence.

The inform Angeline McShane, Hannah Shields, Sarah Kivelehan, Janeen Leese and possibly Catherine Whoriskey will hope to spearhead the local squad’s challenge.

Newcastle lead the Men’s section by seven points but the locals expect to field a strong squad on Saturday with a view to reducing the deficit and set up a real showdown at the Senior championships in Lurgan.

Up front Emmett McGinty will be joined by Noel Logan, Loughlin Connolly and Connor Doherty and the full squad should be fired up for the job at hand.

The annual St. Patricks College Dungiven 10K road race has a 2.30pm start on Saturday and will appeal to both local club runners and joggers so a good turnout is anticipated.

There is also some senior Indoor action in Athlone on Sunday when the Indoor Open Games will showcase some of the top Irish talent alongside some guest athletes.

This one is a developing competition in a top class facility and may have some North West athletes involved as the National senior championships on February 21st draw closer.