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Byrne hot favourite to win for hosts

After winning all round on the roads over the past few months, Linda Byrne is hot favourite to win Monday's Flora Women's Mini Marathon.

Since January, Byrne, of mini marathon host club DSD, has won the Axa Raheny 5-Mile, the St Patrick's Day 5k, the National 10k Championship and Dublin 5-Mile Classic, as well as the national cross-country title.

At the National 10k she finished in a respectable 34 minutes 52 seconds for the hilly course. Byrne expects to improve on that time next Monday, with the mini marathon course known to be fast. In 2000, Sonia O'Sullivan set a course record of 31.28, while Catherina McKiernan has run 32.31 for the route.

A masters student at DCU, Byrne also won the Irish inter-varsity title in Cork, and in April took both 3000m and 5000m titles at the university track and field championships.


Although aged only 23, she has a long career in the sport, having first caught the eye when she finished fourth in the junior race at the European Cross-Country Championships. Her ultimate aim is to run the marathon -- and this might come sooner rather than later.

Taking her on will be the defending champion Rosemary Ryan from the Bilboa club in Co Clare. Ryan clocked a time of 34.36 in boiling conditions last year after finishing second to Annette Kealy of Raheny a year earlier.

Ryan has been absent for much of the year, only surfacing recently in local races, so her form is uncertain.

Other women who could feature in the top 10 if they line out include former winners Annette Kealy and Pauline Curley, and Siobhan O'Doherty of Borrisokane, who finished second behind Linda Byrne at the National Cross-Country.