Athletics: Emerging schools stars aim to catch Shields' eye
AS Brian Gregan's coach, John Shields was in Gothenburg last weekend to lend a supportive shoulder, but he will be back at the coalface tomorrow to see some new stars emerge.
As Athletics Ireland's schools co-ordinator, Shields will be busy overseeing the Aviva Irish Schools' Cross- Country Championships in UUJ, Jordanstown (12.0).
Favourite for the boys' senior title is High School Clonmel's Sean Tobin, the runner-up last year, who won the national junior inter-club title recently.
Hugh Armstrong (Gortner Abbey Crossmolina), who took silver at the inter-clubs, should provide a strong challenge – as will Leinster schools champion Aaron Hanlon (St Mary's Drogheda), Ian Guiden (St Aidan's CBS), Cillin O'Maonaigh (Colaiste Eoin) and Maxwell Wamsley Pled (Royal School Armagh).
Colaiste Iosogain's Siofra Cleirigh Buttner has an unprecedented winning record at schools level and is favourite to record another victory ahead of team-mate and defending champion Clar Nic Carthaigh, Linda Conroy (Mercy Kilbeggin), Yasmin Wilson (Ballyclare HS), Jessica Coyne (Crescent Comp Limerick) and Orna Murray (Ursuline Waterford).
Sarah Fitzpatrick (Our Lady Terenure), the reigning intermediate club champion, faces stiff competition from Aisling Quinn (Ursuline Waterford), Isabelle Odlum (Rathdown School) and Clodagh O'Reilly (Loreto College Cavan).
And in the junior races, watch out especially for emerging talent Siofra O'Flaherty (St Leo's Carlow).
Elsewhere, Clare legend Willie Keane is being honoured with a special tribute night in his native Kilkee on March 31. Keane amassed 56 national titles, ranging from 1500m to 15 miles, and, between 1969-79, was beaten only once in championship races.