The two Dublin teams bid to defend respective senior titles in Raheny this weekend.
The Raheny Shamrock men’s team and UCD’s women aim to retain their Irish National Road Relay Championships on Sunday (April 22).
Going for three in a row, Raheny Shamrock will start as pre-race favourites in the men’s 8-mile race, but they will have to be on form to defend from Kilkenny City Harriers, DSD and Donore Harriers.
The strong Shamrock quartet Kieran Kelly, Eoin Strutt, Mick Clohisey and Conor Dooney will run the 2-mile, 1-mile, 3-mile and 2-mile legs, with the longer third handover probably the most crucial one.
Brian Maher, who won the national 10k title last week at the Great Ireland Run in Phoneix Park, will head the Kilkenny men will be looking to move further up podium after taking bronze last year.
The 40-year-old will have to be on form for the 3-mile leg which can make or break title aspirations and among his challengers will be Dundrum South Dublin’s Hiko Haso Tonosa.
DSD could be a big threat with Joe Sweeney also on their entry sheet.
Donore, who finished second last year, have Daragh Fitzgibbon, who won the university 5000m title last week, along with Eric Keogh and John Travers in the squad and should not be discounted.
City of Derry, fourth in 2017, where the highest placed team from Northern Ireland, but are not on the entry list this year.
North Down could well lead the charge from the North and have Irish international Craig McMeechan among their ranks once again and will want to improve on their 19th place last year.
UCD aim for consecutive titles
UCD will be the favourites over the 4-mile women’s relay (1-2-1 order) with Alanna Lally, Ellie Hartnett and Claire Mooney in their ranks.
Lally and Mooney are 800m specialists but should fare well over the mile distance – Lally ran well on her debut last year.
Letterkenny and Leevale were on the podium last year but don’t appear on the entry list. There still remains big name clubs in Crusaders and DSD with big-name runners such as Maria McCambridge (DSD), Linda Byrne (DSD), Orla Drumm (Crusaders) and Caroline Crowley (Crusaders).
North Down were fourth last year and will be looking to break into the medals key runners Jessica Craig and Rachel Gibson named on their team.
There will be big numbers in the masters’ races, O35 and O50, and Raheny will be strong in the women’s and men’s races with the likes of Ian Conroy, Damien Martin, Annette Kealy and Adrienne Atkins being instrumental.
All of the races are over the 4 mile, 1-2-1, distance with Crusaders W35 looking to defend while Raheny Shamrock have their record-breaking M35 team back with Ian Conroy, Michael McMahon and John Dunne.
St Finbarr’s AC make the trip to defend the M50 title with Michael Murphy, Cathal O’Connell and Ken Devine.