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Team Ireland at the European Athletics Championships

Ian O’Riordan profiles the 42 athletes wearing green in Berlin next week

North Down AC’s Ben Reynolds winning the 110m hurdles at the National Senior Championships at Morton Stadium in Santry. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Men

Leon Reid (Menapians AC)
100m/200m (PB 10.33/20.27)
Age: 24
After his 11th-hour transfer from Great Britain to Ireland (his late mother is Belfast-born), Reid will hope to replicate his Commonwealth Games bronze over 200m, in April, when representing Northern Ireland. Has the class to at least make the final, and also now eligible to break Irish records.

Marcus Lawler (St Laurence O’Toole AC)
200m (PB: 20.40)
Age: 23
Formerly Ireland’s fastest schoolboy, took a chunk off his best with that 20.40 at the Cork City Sports in July. Coached by his mother, Patricia, former Irish sprint champion, Berlin’s learning curve could be steep, but welcome.

Chris O’Donnell (North Sligo AC)
400m (PB: 46.54)
Age: 20
Recently crowned Irish senior champion, and formerly deft underage footballer, O’Donnell is now at Loughborough, working under David Gillick’s former coach, Nick Dakin. Hasn’t yet improved on his 46.54 from last summer – 46.85 his best this year, Berlin offering that chance and maybe more.

Zak Curran (Dundrum South Dublin AC)
800m (PB: 1:46.87)
Age: 24
Popped that excellent 1:46.87 at the Bislett Games in Oslo in June, the Surrey-based Curran, who in the UK runs with Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow AC, also has a best of 46.96 for 400m, the sort of speed required to make the semi-finals.

Mark English (UCD AC)
800m (PB: 1:44.84)
Age: 25
Four years ago, at 21, English ran bloody boldly to win European bronze in Zurich, his 1:45.03 a season best – a certain Pierre-Ambroise Bosse (now World champion) finishing last. The UCD Medical student hasn’t hit those heights since, partly due to injury, his lack of proper races this season making another final look beyond him.

Stephen Scullion (North Belfast AC)
10,000m (PB: 28:36.05)
Age: 29
Talent is nothing without hard work, and Scullion’s hard-working attitude is now paying off. Based at altitude in the US, he ran a marathon best of 2:15:55 in London in April, finishing 12th, and after his 28:36.05 in Portland in June is sticking to the track. Fresh from his Irish title he won’t fear the pace.

Ben Reynolds (North Down AC)
110m hurdles (PB: 13:48)
Age: 27
Beaten to the National title last weekend by Ger O’Donnell, Reynolds has a best of 13.70 this season, going back to the Commonwealth Games in April, and there’s obvious need and want for improvement here.

Thomas Barr (Ferrybank AC)
400m hurdles (PB: 47.97)
Age: 26
Timing his run to Berlin with near perfection, it seems, third in the London Diamond League in 48.99, then signing off with his eighth national title in 49.56, a championship record. Making the Berlin final is the first and least of his ambitions.

Adam McMullen (Crusaders AC)
Long Jump (PB: 7.99)
Age: 28
Jumping wonderfully close to 8.0 metres, albeit indoors earlier this year, McMullen continues to make steady progress. Won the National title last weekend, with a best of 7.68, will still require more than that to make the final.

Cian McManamon (Westport AC)
20km walk (PB 1:24:03)
Age: 28
Single-handedly, it seems, flying the flag for Mayo athletics, he came close to his best already this year, walking 1:24:36 in Lugano. Building towards Tokyo 2020 and Berlin a useful step along the way.

Alex Wright (Leevale AC)
20km walk (PB 1:21:17)
Age: 29
Promised at one point to follow in the footsteps of Rob Heffernan, progress it seems has stalled a little, his best being 1:23:18 this season. Can be competitive but consistency has been a problem.

Brendan Boyce (Finn Valley AC)
50km walk (PB: 3:48:55)
Age: 31
Was poised, it seemed, for a big performance at the World Championships in London last summer, only for a hamstring injury to get in the way. Still has that promise but will want to start delivering on it here.

Sergiu Ciobanu (Clonliffe Harriers AC)
Marathon (PB: 2:15:14)
Age: 34
Bounced back bravely from his non-selection for the Rio Olympics, the Jerry Kiernan-coached Ciobanu has never given less than his best in the green vest. With team placings on offer that’s what matters here.

Mick Clohisey (Raheny Shamrock AC)
Marathon (PB: 2:14:55)
Age: 32
The most consistent of the current crop of men’s marathon runners, improved his lifetime best to that 2:14:55 in Seville earlier this year, and finished 22nd at the World Championships in London last summer. Can go top-20 here.

Seán Hehir (Rathfarnham WSAF AC)
Marathon (PB: 2:16:18)
Age: 33
No stranger to the major championship stage, his best of 2:16:18 going back to London in April 2017. Hasn’t raced the distance this year but remains consistent.

Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders AC)
Marathon (PB: 2:15:30)
Age: 32
Just 10 weeks ago his foot was in a boot and he was walking on crutches, recovering from a fractured ankle. Not ideal preparation, given the marathon doesn’t do short cuts.

Kevin Seaward (St Malachy’s AC)
Marathon (PB: 2:14:52)
Age: 32
Ran himself into the ground to finish an excellent fourth for Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games marathon on the Gold Coast in April, and if recovered sufficiently can be Ireland’s top finisher.

4x400m relay
From Chris O’Donnell (North Sligo AC), who has run 46.85 this season; Brandon Arrey (Raheny Shamrock AC), age 22 and a best of 47.05 this season; Thomas Barr (Ferrybank AC); Craig Newell (Ballymena & Antrim AC), age 20 with a season best of 47.36; Andrew Mellon (Crusaders AC), age 21 with a season best of 47.56; and Dara Kervick (Dundrum South Dublin AC), age 27, a season best 47.92. Only the top-16 countries in Europe are invited, making the final eight will take something exceptional.

UCD’s Ciara Mageean wins the 800m Final at the National Senior Championships at Morton Stadium in Santry. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Women

Phil Healy (Bandon AC)
100m/200m (PB: 11.28/22.99)
Age: 23
Still considered a 400m-specialist, her drop to the shorter sprints this season a proper revelation, the first woman since Michelle Carroll in 1978 to break both senior records in the same year. That 22.99 is there for improving, if Healy can break into the semi-finals.

Gina Akpe-Moses (Blackrock AC)
100m (PB: 11.46)
Age: 19
At the end of a long season, the highlight being the 4x100m relay silver medals won at the World Under-20 Championships in Tampere, Akpe-Moses won her first Irish senior title last weekend, and Berlin is all about the experience.

Síofra Cléirigh Büttner (Dundrum South Dublin AC)
800m (PB: 2:01.98)
Age: 23
At the end of an even longer season, indoors and outdoors in what was his last year at Villanova, Cléirigh Büttner’s best this year is 2:02.46, indoors, and little to suggest she can go quicker here.

Claire Mooney (UCD AC)
800m (PB: 2:01.61)
Age: 26
Making clear and present improvement before Berlin, running the 2:01.61 in Belgium in July, before winning the National 400m title last weekend. Coached by James Nolan, can definitely get out of her heat.

Ciara Mageean (UCD AC)
1,500m (PB: 4:01.46)
Age: 26
Two years on from her bronze medal won in Amsterdam, not everything has gone to plan. Now working with Steve Vernon near Manchester, ran 4:04.13 to win in Barcelona last month, and will definitely want to make the final. After that there’s a possible medal for the perfect race.

Emma Mitchell (Queen's University AC)
10,000m (PB: 32:49.91)
Age: 24
Working under seasoned coach Eamonn Christie, made her breakthrough at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in April, running that 32:49.91, improving on that time her main target here.

Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle & District AC)
3,000m steeplechase (PB: 9:42.61)
Age: 37
No shortage of experience here, including the Rio Olympics, though she hasn’t broken 9:50 yet this season, and may well need to in order to make the final.

Michelle Finn (Leevale AC)
3,000m steeplechase (PB: 9:43.19)
Age: 28
Defied all medical advice to qualify, winning the National title in Santry last weekend in 9:46.19, despite sustaining an ankle sprain the week before. Coached by Leevale’s Donie Walsh, if willing to run through that sort of pain again could make the final.

Breege Connolly (North Belfast Harriers AC)
Marathon (PB: 2:37:29)
Age: 40
Like the rest of the women’s marathon team, a relatively late developer, the Rio Olympics being her first major championships. Hasn’t raced the distance yet this year, and little form to go on of late.

Gladys Ganiel (North Belfast Harriers AC)
Marathon (PB: 2:37:55)
Age: 41
Motherhood, like many women marathon runners, seemed to boost her running wellbeing, her 2:37:55 set in Berlin last September. And like her marathon team-mates also juggles a career at Queen’s University in Belfast.

Laura Graham (Mourne Runners AC)
Marathon (PB: 2:37:05)
Age: 32
The youngest of the four marathon women, Graham is also the most prolific, having run the Belfast marathon in May, finishing second after a long struggle with Kenya’s Caroline Kepchirchir. Never races with anything less than her best.

Lizzie Lee (Leevale AC)
Marathon (PB: 2:32:51)
Age: 38
Hasn’t retouched on that excellent 2:32:51 from 2015. Lee, the fifth fastest Irish women of all time, is building nicely for Berlin, the mother of two and full-time Apple employee winning the Women’s Mini Marathon in June.

4x100m relay
From Phil Healy (Bandon AC); Gina Akpe-Moses (Blackrock AC); Ciara Neville (Emerald AC), aged 18 and a season best of 11.54; Molly Scott (St Laurence O’Toole AC) age 19, a season best of 11.76, and like Neville and Apke-Moses, part of the silver medal-winning quartet at the World Under-20 Championships in Tampere; Joan Healy (Bandon AC) age 25, sister of Phil, a season best 11.57; Niamh Whelan (Ferrybank AC) age 28, a season best of 11.76; definitely potential finalists.

4x400m relay
From Davicia Patterson (Beechmunt Harriers AC), age 17, ran a national junior record of 52.88 this season; Claire Mooney (UCD AC), with a season best of 53.85; Sophie Becker (St Joseph’s AC) age 21, a season best of 54.61; Sinead Denny (Dundrum South Dublin AC) age 27, a season best of 54.15; Ciara Deely (Kilkenny City Harriers AC) age 18, a season best of 54.33; Catherine McManus (Dublin City Harriers AC) age 26, a season best 54.81; may be a little too young to make the final.

(PB = Personal Best; i = indoors)