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Ulster aces battle for Euro call

By Brian Hill

Ulster athletes go to this weekend's GloHealth Irish Senior Championships in Dublin with the objective of booking a place at the European Championships in Amsterdam - starting on July 6 - with the team expected to be announced on Monday.

Five women already have the qualification standard, while three men will be striving to qualify at Santry when most of Ireland's top athletes will feature.

Lisburn AC's Amy Foster is once again Ireland's top sprinter following her sizzling 11.42 seconds time over 100m in Florida last month.

Amy will be looking to snatch the title back from Ferrybank's Kelly Proper who inflicted a rare defeat last year.

The Newtownards sprinter could have the advantage this time as Proper has yet to compete over the distance this season.

In the equivalent men's event, multi-Paralympic champion Jason Smyth from Eglinton is a mere 0.01 seconds short of the Euro qualification mark following his 10.39 time in the US.

He should capture another Irish title, with last year's runner-up Jonathan Browning of Ballymena also in the mix.

In the women's 1,500m all eyes will be on Rio-bound Ciara Mageean who will be seeking to add another fast time to her record breaking season following her PB over 800m in Belfast last week.

The Portaferry runner will be hoping that the presence of defending 1,500m champion Sarah Treacy will help her beat her season's best time of 4.08.

Ballymena's Christine McMahon is in the spotlight in the 400m hurdles following her recent outstanding 56.42, which is a mere 0.22 short of the Rio qualification mark. The 23-year-old dental graduate should secure a hat-trick of titles ahead of Ferrybank's Jessie Barr.

The women's steeplechase entries include Rio-bound competitors Kerry O'Flaherty of Newcastle, Michelle Finn of Leevale as well as Treacy. O'Flaherty will be seeking to improve on her sub-10 minutes time from Lucerne a few days ago.

High hurdler Ben Reynolds will be hoping to put a frustrating season behind him and achieve what for him should be an easy Euro qualification time of 13.90.

He should successfully defend his title ahead of Carrick's Gerard O'Donnell.

Other Ulster contenders include Finn Valley's Tori Pena - qualified for Rio in the pole vault - and Adam McMullan who is currently ranked 16th in Europe in the long jump. His season's best of 7.84m is just short of the very difficult 7.95m Euro standard.

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