ATHLETICS: Hundreds of athletes set to brave winter elements in Coleraine

Keith Shiels will be in contention in Coleraine
Keith Shiels will be in contention in Coleraine

Almost 650 athletes will be in action on Saturdat at the University of Ulster in Coleraine for the Northern Ireland and Ulster Intermediate and Masters Cross Country Championships.

The Intermediate Men will provide fascinating competition at both individual and team levels and favourites include Keith Shiels, Conan McGaughey, Paul Barbour, Conor Duffy and Scott Rankin.

Shiels, the former Waterside winner, has a great record on the roads. He returned from injury with a win at Dungannon.

Scottish-based McGaughey – sixth in this race last year – is a former Ulster novice winner, while Rankin, fifth last time, was second in the Seeley.

Paul Barbour from Omagh won at the Acorns race while junior star Connor Christie, Mark McKinstry, Adam Boyd and Andrew Annett will feature along with Chris Madden, Chris McGuinness, Stephen Prentice and Pius McIntyre.

Team-wise Foyle Valley can dispute the honours with North Belfast. They will have Shiels, McIntyre, Rankin, McGuinness and Adrian McGowan as their key runners while North will be led by McKinstry, Boyd, Annett, Andrew Considine and junior star Conal McCambridge. Ballymena Runners with Ben Morrow and Matthew McCooke will be fighting for bronze along with Springwell and City of Derry.

Defending champion Fionnuala Diver from Letterkenny goes head to head with Cathy McCourt and Louise Smyth of North Belfast in what should be a close Lady Masters event.

Last year’s medallists Kay Byrne and Donna Evans should challenge along with Mary Margaret Meade and Gillian Burns. The action starts at 1.15pm