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Athletics: Healy and McTeggart hoping to lead Ireland to Combined harvest of medals

COULD Ireland ever produce an international-class multi-eventer who could compete against the likes of Britain's Olympic golden girl Jessica Ennis?

It is a particularly demanding event that requires technical proficiency in a vast range of events, but there seems no logical reason why not.

Irish schoolgirl Sarah McCarthy caught the eye this time last year when she won the Aviva Schools Combined Events quadrangular international in Glasgow, the first Irish athlete to ever win at that level.

She is a long-jump and sprint specialist, is a good hurdler and can also throw, so her progress in heptathlon in the next few years is eagerly anticipated.

Originally with Fingallians AC and now competing for Mid-Sutton, McCarthy (18) is doing her Leaving Cert at Maryfield College, Beaumont, this year but is over-age for tomorrow's schools' international, which is U-18 and U-16. Sam Healy (Carrigaline CS) and Amy McTeggart (Our Lady's Greenhills, Drogheda) will lead the Irish teams in the new Emirates Arena in Glasgow.

Lots of talented teenagers with multiple skills will also be in Greystones on Sunday for Triathlon Ireland's latest 'talent identification' day. They run them every six months and inevitably attract interest from good juvenile runners and swimmers anxious to see if they can make the cross-over. It was at one of these events that Olympian Aileen Morrison was spotted a few years ago.

Gavin Noble's and Morrison's successes at the recent Olympics and World Cups no doubt contributed to the record 110 applications for Sunday's trials, which have been whittled down to 70 for the two grades, U-16 and U-19.

International triathlete Bryan Keane started out in athletics and noticeably, after recovering from the injury that destroyed his London Olympic dream, has been running cross-countries again this winter as part of his training.

He was not only second in the Cork XC championships but finished eighth at the Nationals last weekend. Triathlon Ireland hope to hold their next talent ID day in the midlands in order to avail of Athlone IT's new indoor track, the completion of which is imminent.

It is impossible to calculate how such a world-class facility could have helped Derval O'Rourke over the years but Ireland's top track star has never, physically or mentally, let a lack of facilities stand in her way.

The Leevale star, along with her coach Terri Cahill and strength coach Martina McCarthy, is giving a four-hour workshop in DCU tomorrow which should offer invaluable insight into how she has succeeded and any aspiring sprinters would be mad to miss it. Admission is free, but you must pre-book a place by emailing irishhurdlers@hotmail.com.

Irish Independent