Ireland name 30-strong team for Zurich

European Championships team will feature at least three medal favourites

A team of 30 Irish athletes with at least three medal favourites have been selected for the European Athletics Championships, which take place in Zurich in just over three weeks’ time.

Reigning World 50km champion Rob Heffernan will make his first competitive outing over that distance since winning the gold medal in Moscow last summer. Heffernan finished fourth in both the 20k and 50k in Barcelona four years ago, and is determined to now add a European medal to his World title when the championships get underway in Zurich on Tuesday, August 12th - and finishing on the Sunday, 17th.

Mark English will make his first senior appearance at a European Championships over 800 metres, where he is currently ranked fourth in Europe. English is now unbeaten in seven races, and won another national senior title in Santry on Sunday with plenty in reserve.

Thomas Barr is still ranked third best in Europe this season over the 400 metres hurdles, with his Irish record of 48.90 set last month, and the Waterford athlete - still a few days shy of turning 22 - also underlined his excellent form by winning a fourth successive national title in Santry this weekend.


Although the Irish medal hopes in Zurich don't end there: Ciarán Ó Lionáird earned the automatic selection spot in the 1,500 metres after winning the national title on Sunday, and he will be joined by Paul Robinson (second on Sunday) and John Travers (who finished third). That means David McCarthy is the athlete who misses out, even though he also had the qualifying time, as he finished behind the three others in Sunday's 1,500m final. Both Ó Lionáird and Robinson have the form and ability to make the final in Zurich, with Ó Lionáird certainly coming into form at the right time.

Two-time European Cross Country champion Fionnuala Britton is selected in both the 5,000m and 10,000m, and is likely to double up given the 10,000m metres comes first, on the opening day.

Heffernan is joined in the 50km walk by Brendan Boyce, while Laura Reynolds competes in the 20k walk, and Declan Murray will also join English in the 800m.

Brian Gregan, a finalist at the last European Championships in Helsinki in 2012, is selected in the 400m, with joint Irish 100m record holder Amy Foster selected in that event alongside Phil Healy.

National champion Zoe Brown will be the sole field representative in the women's pole vault, with Tori Pena making the decision to withdraw as season hasn't gone as planned. Ireland will also be represented in the men's 4x400m relay and the women's 4x100m, with two open places in that women's relay team to be decided by this weekend (bringing the overall team to 30 athletes).

There are also full men's and women's marathon team representatives, with Paul Pollock leading the men's team, and Nicola Duncan leading the women team.

Irish Team

Amy Foster 100m (City of Lisburn AC) Phil Healy 100m (Bandon AC) Kelly Proper 200m (Ferrybank AC) Brian Gregan 400m (Clonliffe Harriers AC) Richard Morrissey 400m (Crusaders AC) Declan Murray 800m (Clonliffe Harriers AC) Mark English 800m (UCD AC) Ciarán Ó Lionáird 1,500m (Leevale AC) John Travers 1,500m (Donore Harriers) Paul Robinson 1,500m (St Coca's AC) Sarah Lavin 100m Hurdles (UCD AC) Laura Reynolds 20k Walk (Mohill and District AC) Christine McMahon 400m Hurdles (Ballymena & Antrim AC) Jason Harvey 400m Hurdles (Crusaders AC) Thomas Barr 400m Hurdles (Ferrybank AC) Fionnuala Britton 5000/10,000m (Kilcoole AC) Brendan Boyce 50k Walk (Letterkenny AC) Robert Heffernan 50k Walk (Togher AC) Barbara Sanchez Marathon (Clonliffe Harriers AC) Kevin Seaward Marathon (St Malachy's AC) Maria Cambridge Marathon (DSD AC) Nicola Duncan Marathon (Galway City Harriers AC) Paul Pollock Marathon (Annadale Striders AC) Sean Hehir Marathon (Rathfarnham WSAF AC) Thomas Frazer Marathon (St Malachy's AC) Zoe Brown Pole Vault (Raheny Shamrock AC)

Men's 4x400m relay: Brian Gregan, Richard Morrissey, Thomas Barr, Mark English, Craig Lynch, Brian Murphy

Women’s 4x100m relay: TBA by the 27th of July

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics