It will be O’Rourke’s first appearance over the hurdles in Cork since her stunning performances at the world championships in Berlin last year, when she finished fourth in a sensational final.
This is a big year for O’Rourke, with the European championships in Barcelona approaching next month. She will be hoping to build on the silver medal she won in Gothenburg four years ago.
She has her first hurdles race in Geneva tomorrow but her coach, Sean Cahill, pointed out yesterday that her primary reason for taking in the meet is the women’s 4 x 100m relay team which his wife, Terri, coaches.
The squad for Geneva is comprised of the national 100m champion Ailis McSweeney and O’Rourke both from Leevale, Kelly Proper and Niamh Whelan from Ferrybank and national indoor champion, Claire Brady. After Sunday, Amy Foster and Louise Kiernan will also be available.
“This is a squad that can qualify for Barcelona and they can make a big impression there,” Sean Cahill said.
“Terri took over the relay squad on the understanding that she would have the support of both the athletes and the federation and she has got that. In fact athletes are phoning her every day to make themselves available.”
There was good news for Cork City Sports yesterday when details of this year’s showpiece were unveiled at Cork City Hall, with meet organiser Dick Hodgins confirming Loughnane’s participation in the event.
He added: “Derval (O’Rourke) will be competing at her home meeting for the first time since her brilliant performances in Berlin and she will face two quick Americans, Kellie Wells and Janay DeLoach, as well Jessica Ohanaya from Nigeria.”
Last year, Robert Heffernan and Eder Sanchez from Mexico fought out an exciting finish to the 3,000m walk and it now appears as if Sanchez will return next month along with Waterford’s Jamie Costin.
Throughout the programme there are star-studded fields. Athenry sprinter, Paul Hession will face Brendan Christian (Antigua & Barbuda), Jarret Connaughton (Canada), Adrian Griffith (Bahamas) and Britain’s Mark Findlay in his bid to extend his amazing winning streak at the meet.
The women’s sprints will feature all the members of the Irish 4 x 100m relay squad as well as the holder of the 100m in Cork, Ivet Lalova (Bulgaria), plus Sheri-Ann Brooks (Jamaica) and Olympic finalist, Cydonie Mothersill (Cayman Islands).
Two popular field events will return to the programme with the pole vault and the hammer attracting some of the world’s leading athletes. Jure Rovan (Slovenia) will be favourite to win the pole vault while in the women’s hammer, Sophie Hichon and Zoe Derham from Great Britain and the Marghiev sisters, Zalina and Marina from Moldova, should produce some big throws.