CORK City Sports fans could have the pleasure of seeing women’s hammer star Eileen O’Keeffe in action at this year’s event which takes place on July 3 at the CIT Track in Bishopstown.
Ireland’s premier athletics meeting has been awarded an Area Permit, which means that the organisers themselves can draw up the programme for the meet.
And, as a result of this, Cork City Sports chairman Dick Hodgins said they will be adding the women’s hammer to the bill if Eileen O’Keeffe is available to take part.
The Kilkenny thrower finished sixth in the women’s hammer at the world championships in Osaka three years ago and while a knee injury hampered her first Olympic appearance as well as last year’s world championships, she is still a sought-after athlete across Europe.
Unfortunately, with the exception of events like the national championships, where she has dominated both the women’s hammer and discus for several years, and the Lee Strand international in Castleisland, Irish fans have had little opportunity to see her inaction.
“I am sure she would be a huge attraction here in Cork where there is a hammer throwing tradition,” Hodgins said.
“I am hoping to talk to her before we draw up our programme of events for the meet.
“I have just got confirmation that we have been upgraded to an Area Permit this year and that makes it possible for us to draw up our programme to cater for the obvious strengths in Irish athletics like the women’s hurdles which will feature our own Derval O’Rourke, walks, the women’s hammer, women’s long jump and the other events which have been synonymous with the City Sports for almost 60 years.”
He was present yesterday morning when the venue for this year’s City Sports was officially unveiled by Michael Delaney, vice president for development at Cork Institute of Technology, in the presence of the CIT president, Dr Brendan Murphy.
A new €1.7 million stand that incorporates a 60m indoor training/warm-up area has been added to the facility, and it also includes the headquarters of the Cork County Board of Athletics Ireland.
Apart from the obvious benefits for spectators and athletes alike, the structure also acts as a wind breaker and should lead to some fast sprinting on the home straight.
While the state-of-the-art GAA pitch is the obvious centre-piece on a 93 acre site that includes a rugby pitch, astro turf pitch, a jogging/walking track along the Curaheen River and various other amenities, the new track and stand with all the necessary facilities for timing, judging and offices is truly magnificent.
The complex has hosted the South Munster Schools cross-country championships and, next Friday, will host the Munster Schools and Universities Championships. On March 13 the All-Ireland Schools and Inter-Varsities Championships will be held there.
“It is now an important feature of student life at the college,” Delaney said. “The fact that it is on campus means that students can leave a lecture at 1pm, walk to the dressing rooms and be out on the track in 15 minutes.
“We see that as being very important to student life at the college. There are so many distractions for students nowadays but this facility gives students something to do and contributes to a healthy lifestyle.”
Terry O’Rourke, a member of the City Sports committee, confirmed that his daughter, Derval, will be among the stars competing at the CIT Track on July 3.
Tomorrow, she will join the likes of David Gillick and Kelly Proper at the Indoor Grand Prix in Birmingham as she builds up to the world indoor championships in Doha next month.
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