RTE News Athletics Ireland have announced their teams for this year’s European Cup, which takes place on 21/22 June. The women’s team will compete in the Division 1 competition, which is being held in Lieria, Portugal, while the men’s team compete in Division 2, which is being held in the Estonian capital Tallinn.
The women’s team will face Belgium, Czech Republic, Spain, Finland, Lithuania, Netherlands and Portugal. The team will feature several of Ireland’s top female athletes including Derval O’Rourke who will compete in the 100m after an impressive return to form last weekend in Germany.
This is a crucial year for Irish Athletics in this team event as a qualification is a stake for 2009 in a revamped European Team Championships that will see the Men and Women’s team combined.
Joanne Cuddihy will also return to action following a knee injury and she will be joined on the team by fellow Olympians Roisin McGettigan and Fionnuala Britton.
McGettigan runs in the 3000m Steeplechase, while Britton goes in the 3000m. Eileen O’Keeffe will also be competing in the Hammer as part of her preparations for Beijing, while top young long jumper Kelly Proper will also be in action.
The men’s team will be aiming to make a return to Division 1 in Tallinn and will come up against Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania and Luxembourg. The men will be led by European Indoor champion David Gillick who drops down a distance from 400m to 200m.
Ireland’s fastest man Paul Hession will run in the 100m, while David McCarthy takes part in his senior international over 1500m. Crusader’s Thomas Chamney will also be chasing the Olympic dream as he hopes to secure the ‘A’ standard for Beijing in the 800m.
The European Cup will also give the Irish 4x400m relay teams the opportunity to set an Olympic qualifying time as they hope to secure a place in Beijing.
This will be the men’s first attempt at making the world’s top 16 as the women had their first run out last weekend in Turin. They finished third in Italy but were missing Irish 400m record holder Joanne Cuddihy who returns to the team for the trip to Portugal.