Ó Lionaird may beset for double blow

FAVOURITE Ciarán Ó Lionaird (DLS Macroom) could miss the 1,500m at the Kit Kat Irish Schools Track and Field Championships in Tullamore on Saturday.

The day before the Munster championships he had a troublesome wisdom tooth extracted and had to pull out. During the past week, the finalist at last year’s world youth championships in Marrakech and a medallist at the European Youth Olympics, has complained of a back problem and his coach, Der O’Donovan, admitted his participation is in doubt.

“He has not trained for the past three days and he has to be doubtful,” said O’Donovan. “He was disappointed at having to miss the Munster championships and then this came along.”

Should he make it, he will still start as favourite although the Leinster pair, Daire Bermingham (Sutton Park) and John Coghlan (Castleknock College), last year’s intermediate champion, will provide serious opposition.

David McCarthy (St. Augustine’s Dungarvan) will be the star attraction on a star-studded programme when he lines up for the senior boys’ 800m.

The senior boys’ sprints look exciting. Cork’s Derek Duff (Hewitt College) has been dominant in Munster while, at national level, Jason Smyth (Limavaddy GS) has been unbeatable. Last year Smyth, who is visually impaired, completed a sprint double and, since then, he won a gold at the world indoor paralympic games and also set a new Irish junior record at 6.92 secs. Coached by Ireland’s new Director of Coaching, Stephen Maguire, he has had only one competition this year and that was at the Ulster schools championships where he ran a sizzling 10.64 sec 100m.

“He has started his programme late for a number of reasons,” his coach said. “Firstly he is in the middle of his A Levels and then he is aiming for the world juniors in Beijing in August and then the Paralympics in Affen, Holland in September so everything is geared towards those two events.”

Amy Foster (Glenlola Collegiate), Louise Kiernan (Colaiste Ide, Finglas), Mairead Murphy (Mercy, Waterford) and Katie Lydon (St. Enda’s, Galway) will all ensure some great sprinting at senior girls’ level.

Kelly Proper (St. Paul’s Waterford) is on course for another record in the senior girls’ long jump, while Ann Marie Cronin (Colaiste Choilm Ballincollig) will be favourite to win the senior girls’ hammer. Cian Healy could spring a double in the senior shot putt and discus.

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