THE FINALS of the Aviva All-Ireland Schools Track and Field Championships in Tullamore tomorrow are not just the highlight of the schools year, but a huge rite of passage for many future internationals.
"The Irish Schools really feels like your first proper champion-ship track meet because everything is run so professionally," explained rising 800m star Ciara Everard.
"Apart from that, it is also just a fantastic day out with your friends. it really is very special and something you never forget".
Everard has just finished her final physiotherapy exams in UCD and will open her outdoor season in Sardinia this weekend, but she cherishes all of her schools titles, including intermediate 300m and 800m and three senior golds at 400m and 800m.
Defending senior 100/200m champion Marcus Lawler of Carlow CBS, who, like many, will be starting his Leaving Cert next Wednesday, is one of this year's big attractions.
A son of Irish international Patricia Amond, who coaches him, he has already smashed records – indoor and out – this season.
Only Jason Smyth (10.36) has run faster this year than the Irish junior 100m record of 10.38 that he set at the Leinster schools and only Steven Colvert's 21.07 this week is faster than Lawler's 200m season's best of 21.17.
Like Bandon's Phil Healy, Kilkenny's Cliodhna Manning and Sligo's Zak Irwin, he is leading the next wave of Irish sprinters and, with Carlow CBS putting together a good 4x100m, is hoping to finish his schools career with treble gold.
Another potential record-breaker is Colaiste Iosogan's Siofra Cleirigh Buttner, who set a new Irish junior indoor 800m record this year. She has already broken the Leinster schools 800m record with her recent 2:06.6 and ran a 1500m PB of 4:22.3 in the European Club Championship in Spain last weekend.
Only Tallaght's Anthony Lieghio, who qualifed for the NCAA Finals at the US collegiate this week with 1:48.7, has run a faster 800m this year than Clonmel High School's Sean Tobin (1:50.23)
Two Munster intermediate hammer throwers, Adam King of Kerry and Alice Akers of Clare, could also break more records and the senior boy's high jump, which pits David Cussen of Cork against Jamie Murtagh of Ashbourne, should also be top-class.
Field events start at 9.0 and track at 10.0.
Meanwhile, the two big road events on Bank Holiday Monday are the Flora Women's Mini-Marathon (2.0) in Dublin and the Cork Marathon (9.0).