| 9.1°C Dublin

Donore on track for fantastic weekend of athletics

Athletics fans are in for a treat this weekend when the Woodie's DIY Inter Club Championships of Ireland take place in the Phoenix Park over a spectator-friendly course near the Magazine Fort/Khyber Pass area.

This year's championships are hosted by Donore Harriers, whose impressive Sports Centre and all-weather track is located in nearby Chapelizod.

The last time Donore hosted these prestigious championships in the Phoenix Park was back in 1993 when Gerry Curtis led the club to team victory in the men's senior race -- a brilliant achievement in what was the club's centenary year.

The 1993 Inter Club championships are remembered as being exceptionally well organised, and this weekend Donore Harriers will again deliver a top-class event that is free to attend.

The weekend of athletics kicks off on Saturday night in the Donore Harriers Sports Centre in Chapelizod when Irish Runner magazine hosts 'An Evening of Champions'.

This event starts at 8pm and will include on-stage interviews with Irish running legends John Treacy, Catherina McKiernan and Eamonn Coghlan, along with video highlights from the careers of all three athletes, plus an audience Q&A session. Admission to the event is €10 and young athletes up to the age of 18 are free of charge.

"This is a great opportunity for athletes, coaches and fans to hear three icons of Irish athletics share their vast knowledge, and it is an event not to be missed," said Maurice Ahern of Donore Harriers. "It is not often that we get the chance to have three champions in the one room."

On Sunday the championships get under way in the Phoenix Park at 1pm -- starting with the junior women's race over 4km.

The programme continues with the junior men's event over 8km at 1.30pm and the senior women's race takes place at 2.15pm. The senior men's race at 3pm will bring the curtain down on what promises to be a great day's racing.

"This can be a great family day out," Mr Ahern said. "There will some great racing and the public will have the opportunity to see many of our top distance runners in action on a course that is very accessible for spectators."

Donore Harriers have a long and proud history at cross-country running. The club's senior men's teams won 19 out of 20 national cross-country titles between 1956 and 1975, and club athletes Jimmy Reardon Cummin Clancy, Eamonn Kinsella, Bertie Messitt, Willie Dunne, Tom O'Riordan, Jim McNamara, Eamonn Coghlan and a number of others made it all the way to the Olympic Games.

Former Olympians Jim McNamara and Willie Dunne still serve Donore as coaches, and former national Inter Club Champion John Downes is now the resident coach at the club, where he is doing terrific work with young athletes such as John Travers, who will be among the favourites to win the junior men's title on Sunday.

"Our club committee have put in many years of hard work to develop the club to its present success," Mr Ahern said.

"The new track down by the Liffey is a great addition to the club and we are experiencing a huge surge in new members."

Mark Kenneally of Clonliffe Harriers will start favourite to win the men's senior title on Sunday and there promises to be a close contest for the club title. Clonliffe Harriers, led by Kenneally, are likely to be given a close contest by Raheny Shamrock AC.

Linda Byrne of DSD will be favourite in the senior women's event but Fionnuala Britton (Sli Cualainn) and Maria McCambridge (Letterkenny AC) will also be athletes to watch.

It promises to be an exciting weekend of athletics.