ATHLETICS: Paul Pollock and Kerry O’Flaherty out to defend 10K titles

Paul Pollock of Annadale Striders.
Paul Pollock of Annadale Striders.
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Paul Pollock and Kerry O’Flaherty are the defending champions in Saturday’s Podium 4 Sport Seeley Cup 10K Road Race in Ormeau Park.

The event, promoted by Willowfield Harriers and Athletics Northern Ireland, has attracted 1,055 athletes with both Men’s and Women’s races set to be thrillers.

Pollock, the winner of the Queen’s and Titanic races, has qualified for the Olympic Marathon and showed his versatility with third in the Irish Inter-Club Cross Country last Sunday.

Stephen Scullion was the record breaker at both Omagh and Greencastle and like Pollock has won the Northern Ireland and Ulster Cross Country, while Danny Mooney competed in the 1500 metres at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

Gary Murray - former Irish and Northern Ireland champion - ran 2:21:09 in Berlin while Paddy Hamilton, the Seeley winner in 2005 and 2006, has come first recently at Armagh, Jordanstown and Ballyclare.

Scott Rankin placed second in last year’s Seeley, while Keith Shiels, back from injury, is a former Waterside winner.

Add in Andrew Annett, Mark McKinstry, Paul Barbour, Andrew Agnew, Chris Madden, Seamus Lynch, triple champion Brian Campbell and Eoghan McKinney and it will be quite a feat just to make the top ten.

Team-wise, holders North Belfast face a strong challenge from Letterkenny, Armagh, Foyle Valley and many times winners Annadale.

The Ladies race features a confrontation between holder Kerry O’Flaherty and last year’s Irish Cross Country champion Ann-Marie McGlynn.

Kerry will be going for her sixth win in this race. The Northern Ireland record holder at 5000 and steeplechase placed fourth in the Irish Cross Country and qualified for Europe.

Ann-Marie McGlynn, unlucky to lose a shoe at Santry, was the winner of the Masters International.

The double Waterside winner came first at Titanic and Queen’s and will have a point to prove after Sunday.

Commonwealth Marathon star Gladys-Ganiel O’Neill, multi track champion Kelly Neely, last year’s runner up Louise Smith and Downpatrick winner Rebecca Henderson will all feature along with Laura Graham, who finished joint first with Kelly at the Decathlon 10K and Gerrie Short.

North Belfast can take another team victory ahead of Letterkenny, Dromore, Ballymena Runners and Newcastle.

There is a £1,500 plus prize fund covering all categories.

The race gets underway at 2.30pm.