ATHLETICS: International field set for Armagh clash

Ireland's Mark Kenneally.
Ireland's Mark Kenneally.

Records are set to fall during Thursday night’s 26th Armagh International Road Races around the spectacular floodlit Mall.

Scottish champion Andrew Butchart - the only man to match strides with the Africans at Greenmount where he came sixth - Welsh star Dewi Griffiths and Irish marathon star Mark Kenneally lead the line-up.

Daniel Cliffe of Liverpool and Ieuan Evans from Swansea, who were second and ninth last time, should go well along with Belfast half marathon winner Gideon Kimosop and Cameron Boyek of Shildo.

Poland are led by Krzysztof Zebrowski and European steeplechase champion Krystian Zalewski while Belgium and Finland have also named strong sides. Northern Ireland are represented by Scott Rankin, Chris Madden, Gareth Hill and Neil Johnston.

The ladies field is headed by Racheal Bamford of Leeds and Scots star Laura Whittle, who were the Armagh winners for the last two years, along with England internationals Katrina Wootton, fourth 12 months ago, Faye Fullerton and 1,500 girl Sharlene Thomas.

Scotland have entered Olympic steeplechaser Eilish McColgan, who is now fully recovered from injury and capable of challenging the best.

Beth Potter and Sarah Inglish are also entered while Gemma Hillier-Moses - third last time - goes for England.

Irish 1,500 and steeplechase champion Sara Tracey and former Greenmount runner-up Deirdre Byrne lead the Irish side while Sinead Haughey - daughter of former Lurgan man Jim - heads the USA team.

Kerry O’Flaherty, twice a winner of this race and already qualified for the Rio Olympics steeplechase, will relish this level of competition. She is joined on the Northern Ireland team by Seeley Cup winner Anne-Marie McGlynn and possibly Euro under 23 runner Emma Mitchell.

The promoting Armagh Club has a very strong pairing in Fionnuala Ross and Danielle Fegan.

Fionnuala is the Northern Ireland record holder for 10,000 and is the Scottish 10k champion while Danielle won both Irish novice and intermediate crowns last year.

The 12-race programme opens at 6.30 with nine age group events. The Intersport Women’s International is at 8.05 with the Brooks Men’s International at 8.20 and the Linwoods Open Men’s 3K at 8.45.