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Pinilla Sanchez Alberto of Sligo AC, Sligo in action in 2011. Photo: Barry Cregg / Sportsfile

Pinilla Sanchez Alberto of Sligo AC, Sligo in action in 2011. Photo: Barry Cregg / Sportsfile

Pinilla Sanchez Alberto of Sligo AC, Sligo in action in 2011. Photo: Barry Cregg / Sportsfile

WITH the national 10km in the Phoenix Park just behind us, Dublin again hosts a championship event on Sunday when Raheny hosts the Woodie's DIY National Road Relays. As one of the most enjoyable events of the year, entries for the road relays continue to rise. Last year, 20 women's and 17 men's teams entered the senior races. More impressively, there were 40 teams in the masters races. With club honour at stake, great racing is guaranteed.

Sligo AC pulling off a major shock last year when they beat host club Raheny Shamrock and Clonliffe Harriers in a thrilling finish to a tightly-fought men's senior race. Can Sligo do it again? Last year's team included David Harper and Alberto Sanchez (pictured, right) and a lot will depend on the fitness of these two athletes.

Raheny are determined to avenge their defeat and this year can call on Mick Clohisey (pictured, left). He is in the form of his life and, having stepped up his training, won the National Cross-Country title a month ago. Last Sunday, he finished second in the National 10km.

Clonliffe can always muster a balanced squad and this year have David Fitzmaurice as a contender for the mile leg, Aaron Hanlon for one of the two-milers and any number of candidates for the critical three-mile leg.

Last year's women's race ended in an eyeballs-out sprint when Sarah Mulligan of DSD outlasted Raheny's Aoife Talty on the final mile leg. Expect more of the same on Sunday – DSD, fresh from victory in the National 10km, have a team led by Mulligan and including the reliable Niamh Devlin. Not available is Linda Byrne, who ran a crucial two-mile leg last year, but is taking a break from the sport. Form runner for Raheny at the moment is Kate Cronin who just missed out on a medal in the National 10km, where Fiona Roche was also in the top 10. Other Dublin clubs that could threaten include Crusaders, led by Orla Drumm.

Defending champions in the masters over-35 categories are the Raheny women, led by Annette Kealy, and the Rathfarnham WSAF men who just pipped Raheny last year.


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