NATIONAL Novice champion Michelle McGee of Brothers Pearse is hotly tipped to win the Woodie's DIY National Intermediate Cross-Country in Dunboyne on Sunday.
Taking place at the wonderfully named Cow Park, the going is likely to be slow, especially if it rains. That won't concern McGee, originally from Co Longford, who has proved her worth on a number of surfaces over the past few months.
Before her win at the National Novice, she had set a course record of 18 mins 18 secs at the Lansboro 5km in September and finished 10th at the intercounties cross-county championships. She has continued to race prolifically and won the Rás na héireann in Drogheda last Sunday.
At the National Novice, McGee had beaten international mountain runner Kate Cronin from Raheny and Mary Mulhare of Portlaoise. Cronin will again be a big threat and is part of a strong Raheny and Dublin team that includes Fiona Stack, recent winner of the Enniscorthy 10km.
Also lining out for Dublin are Emma Donlon of MSB, another mountain runner, and Caroline Crowley of Crusaders, third in the Leinster Senior Cross-Country. There is also a strong team from Liffey Valley, led by Lena Sinclair.
In the men's race, Dermott McDermott of Sligo AC is gunning for victory. He won the 2012 national novice title, but didn't run in the intermediates last year.
Donore's Mark Dooley leads a strong Dublin team that includes his clubmate Eric Keogh, and Clonliffe pair Edgars Sumkiss and Tudor Mircea.
Not to be dismissed are local athletes Loughlin Campion and Rory Kavanagh who know every twist and turn on the 8km course, and Ferrybank's Andrew Connick, second at the National Novice.
Raheny's Elish Kelly, the Dublin champion, looks a good bet for the women's master's title, while putting in a strong bid for team honours are host club Dunboyne, with a team including Emilia Dan, Fiona Reid and Karen O'Hanlon.
Donore's John Dunne leads the Dublin team in the master men's 7km, backed by Rathfarnham's Paul Fleming and hardened campaigners Mick Traynor of Raheny, Clonliffe's Declan Fahy, Liffey Valley's Tom O'Connor and Paul Cowhie of Civil Service.