Commonwealth Games: Ciara Magean and Kevin Seaward lead the pursuit of Northern Ireland glory

Two-time European 1500m medalist Ciara Magean and marathoner Kevin Seaward are the strongest contenders for glory in the 15-man Northern Ireland team that will take part in the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham next month.

Team size is in line with expectations, but does not include injured 800m runner Kathy Kirk, 2018 Games competitor Dempsey McGuigan and marathon runner Ann Marie McGlynn, who opted for the European Championships in Munich instead.

The Northern Ireland Trio Rhys McClenaghan, Eamon Montgomery and Ewan McAteer are still looking to lift their respective FIG bans, having previously represented Team Ireland at other events.

Magean, who captained the Gold Coast team in 2018, has recently reached perfect form with a pair of excellent Diamond League performances against world-class opponents.

The 30-year-old from Portaferry is hoping to repeat her Northern Ireland record of just four minutes, which she set in the 1500m final at the 2019 World Championships.

With two European bronze medals, she has proven over the years that she has the ability and determination to reach another major championship final.

Seaward, who hails from Belfast, has fond memories of the last Games in Australia, where he defied the brutal heat and missed out on a bronze medal in just 18 seconds.

He is a model of perseverance and a man for a big cause, as he recently showed by running under two hours and 12 minutes to finish third in the Manchester Marathon.

The teacher from Loughborough has a wealth of experience, having won at least two Olympic Games and two European Championships.

Following strange events over the weekend, Belfast Marathon winner Paul Pollock will now join Seaward at the Birmingham start line.

Athletics NI originally stipulated that Pollock had to prove his fitness before the end of the month, but backed out.

Hollywood Dr. Pollock has a wealth of international experience, with two World Championships and two Olympic Games behind him. Rounding out the marathon is Stephen Scallion, the fastest Irishman on the course with a time of two hours, nine minutes and 49 seconds.

Sprint star Leon Reid will try to repeat his somewhat unexpected bronze medal in the 200m at the Gold Coast Games.

Team NI will be the first to select twins Tyrone Eilish and Roisin Flanagan. The couple from Gortyn in County Tyrone recently turned 25 and have set a number of records in Northern Ireland in recent months.

Roisin runs the 5000m and Eilish is selected to compete in the steeplechase after she set an impressive time at the Tokyo Olympics last fall (9:34.86).

Distance strength in the team is also emphasized by the Cambridge athlete Hannah Irvin.

In January, the 23-year-old finished second at the Dundonald International Cross. She then broke the Northern Ireland 10,000m record by about 25 seconds a month ago and then represented Great Britain in the European Cup.

Megan Marrs of Lisburn AC was named to the list of 100m hurdlers. The UK athlete was on the rise last March when she competed at the Belgrade World Indoors, but then suffered an Achilles tendon injury. However, she struggled with getting back into shape.

Clubmate Ellen McCartney is at the top of her game with three Commonwealth pole vault standards this year. The British Universities Champion has the best result of 4.24m achieved in France in February.

Kate O’Connor of Newry was selected to compete in the heptathlon. She has now recovered from a recent illness at a major event in Austria and Anna McCauley of Lisburn AC has joined the same discipline. Finn Valley’s Sommer Leckie selected for the high jump after her 1.83m in Belfast. The 22-year-old athlete became the silver medalist of the 2018 World Junior Championships with a score of 1.90 meters.

Rounding out the squad are two Paralympic athletes, North Down T38 100m Paralympic athlete Eve Walsh and disabled athlete Mark Miller, who is running the marathon.