The new Tipperary Cross Country season gets underway this Sunday at Powerstown Racecourse in Clonmel.
The Ladies Championship race over 3k will get underway soon after the Juvenile programme of events finishes and that is usually at around 1.30pm and the Men’s 6k race will commence once the Ladies race is finished.
Picking a winner of both races is very tricky as there is no Cross Country form to go on, all we have is the Road Scene and even here many athletes are in full training for the upcoming Dublin City marathon at the end of the month.
In the Ladies race it is hard to select a winner as it is a very open race this year and we could have as many as eight clubs well represented as we are expecting teams from Moyne, Thurles Crokes, Dundrum, Coolquill, Templemore, Carrick on Suir, Fethard and Clonmel to compete over the 1.5 lap course.
As regards picking a winner, the form athletes at the moment are Claire Annan of Carrick on Suir who ran very well in the Tipperary Ladies Mini marathon in Thurles last Sunday when finishing 4th. Clare Kelly now running for Templemore was 2nd in last year’s race and she will figure prominently again if she competes. Marie Fitzgibbon of Thurles Crokes is another athlete who has shown great improvement this year while others that could have a major say in the destination of the title are Laura Burke, Coolquill, Catherine Rice, Clonmel, Mary Keane, Dundrum, Edel Hickey, Moyne and Ita McGrath, Nenagh Olympic. In the team event, Nenagh Olympic are the defending Champions and with three to score it will be very close as all the above mentioned Clubs, if they get all their athletes to compete, have the talent to get a podium position.
In the Men’s race there are a number of athletes who could figure in the shake up for the title, athletes like William Maunsell,Clonmel, William Hughes, Thurles Crokes, David Shelly, Ballynonty, Patrick Roche, Carrick on Suir and Michael Ryan, Dundrum. In the team event the defending Champions are Clonmel and they will be hoping that with athletes like Colm Nolan, Brian Looram and Gerard O’Loughlin that they can withstand all the challenges for the cup. However they face tough competition from clubs like Thurles Crokes who can also call upon Declan Doherty, Denis Shanahan, Patrick Hughes and Billy Phillips. Dundrum can also call upon the Coen brothers, Michael and Padraic as well as Colm Bradshaw and Michael J Ryan. Coolquill will be looking to athletes like Andrew Smyth, Dermot Logue and Michael Carey to lead their challenge. Templemore, Ballynonty and Moyne will also be sending teams to compete in what is a very open team event.