World Half Marathon: Pollock and Seaward among five NI athletes to run in Valencia

Paul Pollock and Mick Clohisey at the 2016 Olympic Games marathon in Rio
Paul Pollock (second from left) will compete in Valencia but Mick Clohisey has opted out of the event

Commonwealth Games hopefuls Paul Pollock and Kevin Seaward are among five Northern Ireland athletes named in the Ireland team for this month's World Half Marathon Championships.

Pollock and Seaward will be joined by Stephen Scullion in the men's race in Valencia with Fionnuala Ross and Laura Graham both in the women's event.

"This is perfect timing with regards to the Commonwealth Games," said Pollock.

The Holywood man finished a superb 14th at the World Half in Cardiff in 2016.

"When I looked ahead before last Christmas, the World Half was definitely a goal," added the 31-year-old medical doctor.

"I know some of Northern Ireland's athletes will go out to Australia the week before then but I was really pleased Athletics NI recognised that it would be really beneficial for Kevin and me to go to Valencia."

Kilkeel woman Graham is named after chopping almost two minutes off her personal best for the distance when clocking 75 minutes and 15 seconds in finishing 12th at Sunday's Big Half event in London.

Scottish-based Armagh athlete Ross earns deserved selection after producing a lifetime best of 74 minutes when finishing third at the Great Scottish Half Marathon in Glasgow in October.

Scullion leads the Irish rankings in the qualification period for the Valencia event after producing a big personal best of 63:16 in Houston in January.

Seaward, who like Pollock will run the marathon at the Commonwealth Games, earned his spot after clocking 64:51 for the distance last year.

Pollock looked in danger of missing the trip to Spain as he was sixth in the Irish rankings with a 65:40 in Barcelona last month but Mick Clohisey is not running in Valencia after setting a marathon personal best of 2:14.49 in Seville two weeks ago.

Ireland team

Women: Laura Graham (Mourne AC), Fionnuala Ross (Armagh AC), Lizzie Lee (Leevale AC), Claire McCarthy (Leevale AC), Laura Shaughnessy (Dundrum South AC)

Men: Stephen Scullion (Clonliffe Harriers), Kevin Seaward (St Malachy's AC), Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders), Sergiu Ciobanu (Clonliffe Harriers), Kevin Dooney (Raheny Shamrock)