Athletics: DCU stars desperate to make most of Millrose invite
FOUR rising Irish stars will fulfil many an athlete's dream by competing at the Millrose Games, for Dublin City University, in a week's time.
DCU have received an unprecedented invite into the distance-relay team at the legendary New York event and have selected Joe Warne (1200m), Brian Gregan (400m), Mark English (800m) and John Coghlan to represent them tomorrow week.
"Ray Flynn (Longford-born former Irish middle-distance runner) is the meet director which, I'm sure, had something to do with the invite," said DCU athletics director Enda Fitzpatrick.
"But maybe it also signals that people from outside are noticing what we are doing here, which is very encouraging."
DCU has become Irish athletics' new collegiate powerhouse -- Fionnuala Britton, Linda Byrne and Mark Christie are among recent graduates.
Current students Darren McBrearty and Paul Robinson would have been serious contenders for this exciting trip, but McBrearty is not racing indoors this season and Robinson is training in Australia.
But Fitzpatrick still has no shortage of talent on his roster.
English broke the Irish junior 800m records, indoor and outdoors, last year and Gregan took 400m silver at the European U-23s.
Coghlan has just joined his father, Eamonn, in the sub-four minute mile club while on the students' mini-US tour.
Sadly, the Millrose Games have been moved from Madison Square Garden to the Armoury, which means Coghlan won't run on the same track where his dad's famous feats earned him that 'Chairman of the Boards' moniker, but he is still making history by competing on the same stage.
They will be racing against the six best college teams on America's east coast -- two of them, Providence College and Villanova University, have been helping them out in recent weeks, no surprise given that Ray Treacy and Marcus O'Sullivan are the men in charge, respectively, of those famous US nurseries.
Coghlan's 3:59.32 was run at Boston University last weekend, where Providence's David McCarthy, the Waterford star who led the Irish U-23 team to 2010 European cross-country gold, showed fantastic early-season form.
McCarthy not only knocked two seconds off his lifetime best when winning the mile in 3:55.75, but his time broke the school's record (Andy Keith's 3:56.29 from 1994) and was also a New England schools record.
Elsewhere, Derval O'Rourke and Paul Hession were among those kick-starting their indoor season this week, and O'Rourke followed her 8.16 opener in Vienna on Tuesday with a run of 8.18 when fourth in Linz last night.
Another sprint hurdler, Ben Reynolds (North Down) celebrated his recent switch from GB to Irish athletics this week with a new Irish U-23 indoor record (7.88) in Lee Valley.
Leevale star Ciaran O'Lionaird is next into the limelight, racing the mile in tomorrow's New Balance Indoors in Boston alongside his Oregon training partners Mo Farah and Galen Rupp.
World junior silver medallist Ciara Mageean was invited to Boston but, having recovered from a minor ankle problem last winter, she is skipping indoors this year to concentrate on seeking Olympic qualification.