Sheehan relays his high hopes for Euro U23 team

LEADING sprints coach John Sheehan, insists Ireland will have a very competitive 4x100m men’s relay team at this year’s European U23 championships in Ostrava.

Next August, Ireland will have a 4x100m women’s team at the world championships in Daegu for the first time as a result of the combined efforts of Amy Foster, Niamh Whelan, Claire Brady and Ailis McSweeney who set a new Irish record at 43.93 secs at the European Championships in Barcelona — well inside the 44-second qualifying standard for the world championships.

The previous record was set at 44.27secs by Claire Brady, Derval O’Rourke, Niamh Whelan and Kelly Proper, and Derval O’Rourke is still with the squad, training under Terri Cahill who coaches Derval O’Rourke and Ailis McSweeney along with her husband, Sean Cahill.

Now John Sheehan, who put the structures in place for that women’s squad and brought in Terri Cahill, feels he can do the same with the men if given the same commitment.

“The European U23 championships are the obvious choice because I feel we have a really good squad at the moment,” he said.

“Steven Colvert from Crusaders, Dean Adams from Ballymena, Jonathan Holmes from Kilkenny City Harriers and Chris Russell fromFerrybank, who had a big double at the Inter-varsities, could be a big force in the Czech Republic.

“I have always been convinced that we have medal-winning potential in our relay squads but, at the end of the day, it all comes down to commitment and I feel this squad is committed.”

The women’s 4x400m relay team, led by Marian Heffernan, also has potential and the 4x400m men’s squad is growing in strength and numbers all the time with Craig Lynch from Shercock an interesting addition after moving up from the shorter sprints to win the 400m at Leevale Sports.

The Woodies DIY AI Games take place in Santry on Sunday, when a number of the younger athletes will be chasing qualifying standards. Among them is Dean Cronin (Coláiste an Phiarsaigh) who led by a huge margin throughout the senior 800m at the South Munster Schools Championships at the CIT Track on Tuesday.

The Blarney/Inniscarra youth ran 1:53 behind Niall Touhy at the Leevale Sports last month.

Ian Hartnett ran as a guest in the intermediate 800m and goes to Holland on Saturday in search of a European Youth Olympic qualifying standard for 3,000m.

Following the success of last year’s programme, six graded meetings have been planned for this summer, open to athletes, men and women, over 17 years of age, with a lower age limit for 18 years for shot, discus, hammer and 56lbs.

While entries will be accepted on the day, clubs are requested to obtain commitment. All events take place at the CIT track on May 23, June 10 and 22, July 9 and 19 and August 11. Each athlete will receive a performance certificate and electronic timing will be in operation each evening.

The second session of the South Munster Schools Championships takes place today (1.30pm) at the CIT track in Bishopstown in Cork.


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