Santry’s Morton Stadium is gearing up for an exciting Saturday evening of international track and field action as the Morton Games returns to the calendar for the first time since 2019. This year’s meeting once again boasts an array of quality athletes from both Ireland and beyond across a thirteen event International programme which gets underway at 19.10 on Saturday evening. There will also be a six race pre-programme preceding the main event which will showcase some of the top junior and varsity talent in Ireland.
The pre-programme includes junior mile races for both male and female athletes as well as juvenile club and mixed varsity relays. Some up and coming names to look out for in the junior races include Cathal O’Reilly and Maebh Richardson of Kilkenny City Harriers and American based Ava O’Connor, representing the blue and white of Tullamore Harriers.
The Morton Mile
The highlight of the nights action will be the iconic Morton Mile which features a wealth of depth on the start-list, which includes some of the most exciting Irish talent in the sport at the moment. The first running of the Morton Mile came in 1970 and was won by Kenyan, Kip Keino in 3:59.20. By approximately 21.15 on Saturday, there will be another addition to the roll of honour which boasts names including Steve Ovett, Eamonn Coghlan and Frank O’Mara.
Bib number one will be worn by the newly crowned national 1500m champion Cathal Doyle of Clonliffe Harriers on his first outing since claiming the title last weekend in a tactical affair in Santry. Doyle has yet to break the 4 minute barrier for the mile and will be very much hoping to do so on his home track this weekend.
With the field that has been assembled for the mile, the temperamental Irish weather is the only potential threat to a sub 4 minute clocking on the night. One of the most anticipated clashes of the year so far will pit Andrew Coscoran (Star of the Sea), newly crowned national 5000m champion Darragh McElhinney (UCD A.C) and European U20 mile record holder Nick Griggs (Mid Ulster A.C) against one another in the Morton Mile.
Griggs and Coscoran lit up the National Indoor Arena in March when the two did battle over the mile in a race which saw Griggs smash the European U20 record in a blistering 3:56.40. Coscoran has lowered his own mile PB this season also, running 3:53.64 indoors in New York in February, while McElhinney recently lowered his 1500m personal best by running 3:37.72 in Denmark last month. Silver and bronze medallists behind Doyle in last week’s national championships, Shane Bracken (Swinford A.C) and Paul Robinson (St Coca’s A.C) are also set to toe the line. Bracken has ran 3:57.57 for the mile already this season and was the first Mayo man to break the 4 minute barrier.
Since James Nolan took victory in 2004 in a time of 3:59.99, there have been eleven winners of the Morton Mile from the USA. On Saturday, Sean Dolan will look to continue the American dominance in the race and will hope to hold off the Irish challengers for the title. Dolan has a personal best of 3:56.39 set in Nashville, Tennessee in February.
Women’s High Jump
Finn Valley’s Sommer Lecky and Pippa Rogan of Sli Cualann will face each other once again seven days on from their gold and silver medal performances respectively at last weekend’s national championships. Lecky cleared 1.79m with her third attempt last Saturday while Rogan’s best clearance was 1.73m. Both have gone higher this season and will be hoping for kinder weather this weekend. They will be joined in Santry on Saturday evening by Australian Emily Whelan and Slovenian Lara Omerzu, who have both cleared 1.85m this year.
The competition is set to get underway at 19.10.
Women’s 100m Hurdles
Australian Liz Clay heads the field for the women’s 100m hurdles and holds the quickest seasons best of the entrants of 12.72. Clay has based herself in Europe since early June and has been a regular training partner of Emerald A.C’s Sarah Lavin in between the Australian’s appearances in meetings throughout Europe, most recently winning the 100m hurdle event in the pre Diamond League programme in Stockholm in a time of 13.03. Clay will go head to head with national champion Lavin in Santry, with Jade Barber of the USA likely to have a say in the final places, having set a 12.78 personal best this season. National silver and bronze medallists respectively Kate Doherty (Dundrum South Dublin) and Sarah Quinn (St Colmans South Mayo A.C) are also in the field.
The women’s 100m hurdles will start at 19.15.
Seven men will contest the javelin competition which includes newly crowned national champion Conor Cusack of Lake District A.C. He will be joined by Trim A.C’s Shane Aston who took bronze at last weekend’s national championships. Cusack threw 64.55m last weekend to seal the national title in windy and wet conditions. He will be hoping to throw a significant deal closer to his PB of 72.13m if conditions allow on Saturday. Dutchman Lars Timmerman-Jetten returns to Santry in the hope of claiming a third Morton Games title but is yet to throw beyond 70m this season. He will face the challenge of Great Britain’s Joe Dunderdale and Tom Meier of Germany.
The first javelin is scheduled to be thrown at 19.15.
Morton Games 200m champion from 2019 Kiara Parker of the USA, goes into the women’s 100m as the favourite, holding a seasons best of 11.06. From lane 5, she will have to hold off the challenge of British duo Diani Walker and Rachel Miller if she is to add the 100m crown to her Morton collection. Dundrum South Dublin’s Mollie O’Reilly and Jennifer Hanrihan will look for good performances after O’Reilly narrowly missed out on a final spot at last weekends national championships, while Hanrahan was unfortunate to have a false start in her heat. The DSD duo, alongside Fingallian’s Sarah Murray will have the support of the home crowd in Morton on Saturday when they take to the blocks at 19.30.
National record holder Eric Favors of Raheny Shamrocks will look to improve on last weekend’s showing in Santry when he takes to the circle on Saturday for the men’s shotput. John Kelly of Finn Valley threw a championship record distance of 19.25m when defeating Favors last week to take the national title. His brother and clubmate James rounded out the podium last Saturday, with all three set to take part this weekend at the Morton Games. American born Italian Nick Ponzio will head the field and the fan-favourite is sure to attract a big following for the competition which is due to get underway at 19.35. Ponzio has thrown 21.83m already this season which puts the stadium record of 20.62m under significant threat.
The line-up for the men’s 100m features the national 100m and 200m champions Israel Olatunde (UCD A.C) and Mark Smyth (Raheny Shamrock). Four tenths of a second separates the fastest four men in the field on seasons bests and sets the race up as a real mouth watering contest. Olatunde is set to go head to head in the second heat with Great Britain’s Andrew Robertson while heat one will feature Smyth and Tallaght A.C’s 100m national silver medallist Joseph Ojewumi. They will face the challenge of Canada’s Bismark Boateng and Dewi Hammond of Great Britain who have both ran sub 10.30 this season. Chris Sibanda of Clonliffe Harriers will hope to run well on his home track.
Heat one is due off at 19.40.
The women’s 400m field will feature one of the most popular winners from last weekend’s national championships in the form of Raheny’s Sophie Becker. Becker will go into the race as the favourite which also includes 400m hurdles national champion Kelly McGrory (Tir Chonaill A.C). The Raheny athlete is the only women on the start-list to have broken the coveted 52 second barrier this year and will relish the opportunity to mix it with USA’s Kendall Baisden and British duo Natasha Harrison and Amy Hillyard ahead of her appearance at the World Athletics Championships in two weeks’ time. National bronze medallist Cliodhna Manning of Kilkenny City Harriers will join Becker and McGrory also.
The 400m for women will get underway at 19.58.
Jack Raftery of Donore Harriers was absent at last weekends national championships and will be hoping to bag himself the win at the Morton Games this Saturday as he enters the race with the fastest time in the field this season. The 21-year old set a time of 46.17 in Oordegem, Belgium in May. He will be joined on the line by three of the top four from last weekends national championships which includes Marcus Lawler (Clonliffe Harriers), Eanna Madden (Carrick-on-Shannon A.C) and Cathal Crosbie (Ennis Track A.C). Belgium’s Maarten Heylen is expected to be in the shake-up for podium positions also, having clocked the second quickest time in the field this year.
The race is set to go to post at 19.58.
1500m national champion Carla Sweeney of Rathfarnham will take to the line in Santry for the women’s mile after a gutsy performance in last weekend’s championships when running away from the field to victory on Sunday evening. She will be faced with the stiff challenge of Great Britain’s 3000m steeplechase Olympic finalist Lizzie Bird, who set her mile personal best in Seattle, last February of 4:32.36. Bird is currently in fine form having broken the British national steeplechase record just over two weeks ago in Paris, clocking 9:19.46. St Abban’s A.C athlete Maisy O’Sullivan will also be on the start line for the women’s mile after taking silver in last weekend’s 1500m national championships behind Sweeney.
The women’s mile race will start at 20.08.
The men’s 800m will see the welcome return of U20 European 1500m gold medallist Cian McPhillips (Longford A.C) to the track for the first time this season. McPhillips will be faced with stern opposition in the form of Kyle Langford of Great Britain, who also holds a European U20 gold medal from 2015. Langford was a world finalist in London in 2017 finishing 4th and has experienced a return to form of late when setting a new 800m personal best of 1:44.61 in Germany two weeks ago. Finley McLear of Great Britain will also be in the mix alongside Australian Jye Perrot and Fin Joonas Rinne, both of whom have sub 1.46 800m clocking’s to their name. National bronze medallist Mark Milner of UCD will also be on the line with other Irish representation coming in the form of Roland Surlis (Annalee A.C), Harry Purcell (Trim A.C) and Jack Manning (Kilkenny City Harriers).
The men’s 800m will go to the line at 20.18.
Oregon bound Louise Shanahan (Leevale A.C) and Ellie Baker of Great Britain will go head to head in the highly anticipated women’s 800m on Saturday evening. They are the only two women in the field to have broken the 2 minute barrier for the distance and will both fancy their chances of taking victory this weekend with only two weeks until the World Championships. Shanahan comes into the weekend full of confidence after a dominant display in the national championships to retain her 800m title last Sunday. National silver and bronze medallists Jenna Bromell (Emerald A.C) and Claire Mooney (Naas A.C) will look to challenge the places alongside Tokyo Olympian Sarah Healy (UCD A.C). Others to watch out for include Great Britain’s Issy Boffey, France’s Cynthia Anais and USA’s Kendra Chambers.
Action will get underway in the women’s 800m at 20.38
The penultimate event of the evening will be the men’s 5000m, with 22 men due to take to the line. Efrem Gidey from host club Clonliffe Harriers ran bravely to take bronze in the national 5000m last weekend and is the pick of the Irish in the field for Saturday’s race. With many still after European qualifying standards, this is not likely to be as tactical affair as was witnessed last weekend and Gidey will relish the fast pace from the off. The Clonliffe man ran a solo 5000m PB of 13:47.43 in Santry in torrid conditions at the Irish Milers meeting in April, suggesting he could go significantly quicker given the right conditions. Great Britain’s Jack Rowe is still chasing a European qualifying time and will look to make this fast from the off having recently set a PB of 13:26.37. There are a number of athletes in the field capable of running in 13:30 territory which sets the men’s 5000m up nicely for what could be an enthralling contest. Irish representation includes European U23 team gold medallist Keelan Kilrehill (Moy Valley A.C), Jack O’Leary (Mullingar Harriers), Paul O’Donnell (Dundrum South Dublin), Mitchell Byrne (Rathfarnham), Ian Guiden (Clonliffe Harriers) and Pierre Murchan (Dublin City Harriers).
The men’s 5000m will get underway at 20.38.
It is sure to be a brilliant night of racing at Morton Stadium which will have food stalls and the Clonliffe Harriers clubhouse beer-garden in operation. It is a unique opportunity to witness some of the finest athletes from both Ireland and abroad battle it out across the various events on the night.
Admission to Morton Games is by payment on the gate of 10 Euro with U16s free. For those unable to be in attendance on Saturday evening, there will be a live stream available of the nights action as it happens. For more information and news including a full schedule of events, visit https://www.mortongames.ie/.