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Irish stars top Cork Sports entry

IF your appetite for top-class international athletics was whetted by the European Team competition, there's plenty more to come. A number of top Irish athletes including sprinters Jason Smyth and Amy Foster, pole vaulter Tori Pena and hurdler Ben Reynolds were in action at the re-opening of the Mary Peters Track in Belfast last night, and next Tuesday sees the 62nd Cork City Sports at the CIT in Bishopstown.

Highlights will include a strong women's 800m, where Laura Crowe, Rose-Anne Galligan and, with luck, the injured Ciara Everard lead a strong Irish entry. They take on a quartet of Americans led by Phoebie Wright and good athletes from Australia and New Zealand.

Irish interest in the women's 100m is also strong with Amy Foster, Ailis McSweeney, Phil Healy, Niamh Whelan and Kelly Proper entered. The field includes world junior champion, Jodie Williams from England.

*Also scheduled for this week are the Aviva Tailteann Games in Tullamore on Saturday followed by the Woodie's DIY Irish Junior and U23 Championships, also in Tullamore, on Sunday.



One of the big personalities of the Irish team in Santry turned out to be Tomas Cotter from Dunleer, who clearly enjoyed every moment of his 3000m steeplechase.

Cheering his every step was a bus-load of 50 supporters who had travelled specially from Co Louth to see their boy.

"It was a first time for a lot of people from my club Dunleer and Blackrock, the club I came from as a junior, to see me run. It was incredible – an amazing experience," said the 22-year old who was making his international debut for Ireland.

Cotter is home for the summer and aims to run a few 1500m races and improve his hurdling technique, perhaps with the help of Sean Cahill, coach to one Derval O'Rourke.



Mark Kenneally of Clonliffe and Leevale's Lizzie Lee set the roads on fire at the annual Dunshaughlin 10km.

Marathon man Kenneally showed that he is right back in form when he led home almost 700 finishers in 29 mins 46 secs.

Lee's time of 34 mins 08 secs was not only the fastest ever by a woman in this race but a big personal best.



At the Night of Flanders 100k in Belgium, Keith Whyte of Ennis Track Club finished second in a new Irish record of 7 hrs 3 mins 53 secs. That time knocked over a minute off Thomas Maguire's 2006 mark of 7 hrs 5 mins 6 secs. His brilliant new record will help Whyte erase the memory of the European 100k Championships last month where he was forced to drop out with a groin strain.



Mullingar's Mark Christie made a winning comeback at the Docklands 10k. Christie's time of 29.59 put him a minute clear of Bandon's Alan O'Shea with Freddy Keron Sittuk a close third. Raheny's much-improved Kate Cronin was first woman in 35.59.



Highlight of the weekend's road racing is Saturday's annual Irish Runner 5-Mile in the Phoenix Park (10am), with close to 4,000 expected. The run is part of the Dublin Marathon Series that has helped so many get fitter and faster over the past few years.