Gerry Ryan of Galway will be a hot favourite to take a medal at the European Masters Track and Field Championships in Hungary next week -- if he survives a last-minute injury scare. Road-runner Ryan is part of a 26-strong Irish team, ranging in age from 35 to 85.
On the younger end of the scale, Rathfarnham club-mates Paul Fleming and Barry Minnock will be making their first appearances at the championships. Both will compete in the over-35 1,500m and 5,000m. Last season, Minnock was fourth in the national 10,000m behind Josaphat Boit.
Former Olympic discus thrower John Menton of Donore Harriers, just into the over-40 class, will compete in the discus -- and is likely to use the weekend's national championships as a warm-up.
Martin McEvilly, aged 62, from Galway has picked up numerous masters' medals over the years and concentrates this time on the 2,000m steeplechase. Another prolific winner is distance runner Pat O'Shea from Cahersiveen, fresh into the over-60 class.
Sprinter Ger Hensey from Tullamore competes in the over-40 100m, 200m and 400m.
Of the women, twins Sheila Champion and Dorothy McLennan are championship regulars. Now over 70, Sheila goes in the shot and javelin, while Dorothy has entered the 80 metres hurdles and her specialist pole vault.
In the over-50 class, Lucy Moore Fox competes in the high jump, triple jump, shot, hammer and weight throw. In the longer distances, Evelyn McNelis from Naas will compete in the over-60 5,000m and 10,000m with a good chance of a medal.
Geraldine Finegan from Newry, who has just served a two-month ban after testing positive for ephedrine at the World Indoors in Canada, has entered the over-40 800m, 80m hurdles, 400m hurdles, steeplechase, triple jump and heptathlon. Finegan's positive came from an over-the-counter decongestant.
Among the elder statesmen and women, Pat Naughton from Nenagh, aged 77, has entered not only the high jump and javelin but also the pentathlon. Donore's Ann Woodlock competes in the over-70 1,500m, 5,000m and 10,000m. Most venerable of the lot is Nick Corish of Raheny, a magnificent 85, who will compete in the 800m, 1,500m and 5,000m.