John Travers (Donore Harriers) thrilling sprint finish with Paul Robinson (St Coca’s) to win the 1500m embodied a competitive and exciting National Indoor Championships at the Sport Ireland National Indoor Arena.
The weekend was full of drama and excitement in an arena that fit the bill for both athletes and spectators alike.
John Travers pounced in the final meters to win the men’s 1500m in 3:50.44 to Robinson’s 3:50.55 with Cillian Kirwan (Raheny Shamrock) getting up for bronze in 3:54.65. European Indoor bound Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle) was a comfortable winner in the women’s 1500m in 4:20.86.
Ciara Neville (Emerald) added the senior women’s 60 title to her junior crown in an even closer finish. The Castletroy schoolgirl recovered to win in a photo finish in 7.43 seconds from Bandon’s Joan Healy and Molly Scott (SLOT) who were both given the same time of 7.45. Healy was given the nod for second ahead of Scott after an official review.
Phil Healy narrowly missed out on the national 60m record at the Athlone International last Wednesday finishing third in 7.31 seconds but had the satisfaction of winning the women’s 400m final ahead of Sinead Denny (DSD) in a European indoor qualifying time of 53.49 seconds. Denny also dipped under the standard (53.75) in 53.74.
Brian Gregan (Clonliffe Harriers) won the men’s 400m in 46.59 holding off his new clubmate Luke Lennon-Ford who is currently in the process of being cleared to compete for Ireland. Lennon-Ford, second in 47.05.
Leon Reid (Menapians), also looking to compete for Ireland, chalked up an impressive sprint double winning the 60m in 6.74 seconds and the 200m in 21.08.
Sharlene Mawdsley (Newport) followed up her junior 200m record (23.85) in the heats by edging Sarah Carthy (Mid Sutton), who won gold in the long jump with 6.03m, in 24.04 to 24.06.
Kieran Kelly (Raheny Shamrock) won his first national title in the men’s 800m 1:56.00 in a blistering last 200m while Fiona Kehoe (Kilmore) won a fascinating tussle in the women’s 800m in 2:08.17.
Ben Reynolds (North Down), another set for the European Indoors in Belgrade March 3-5, was a classy winner of the men’s 60m hurdles in 7.83 seconds while Adam McMullen (Crusaders) won his sixth successive long jump title with a best of 7.59m. Elizabeth Morland (Cushinstown) won the women’s 60m hurdles in 8.50 seconds.
Ellen McCartney (City of Lisburn) won the women’s pole vault on countback with 3.40m while John Kelly (Finn Valley) won the men’s shot put with a best of 17.02m.
In the first race of the day Eoin Everard (Kilkenny City Harriers) successfully defended his 3,000m title in 8:19.69. Saragh Buggy (St Abban’s) won her second national indoor triple jump title with 12.86m and Ryan Carthy Walshe (Adamstown) cleared 2.00m to win the men’s high jump on countback. Yesterday Sommer Lecky (Finn Valley) equalled Deirdre Ryan’s national junior record to win the women’s high jump with 1.81m.
Ciara Mageean (UCD) won a high-quality women’s 3,000m in 9:08.83 and there were two new Irish records on the first day of an engaging National Indoor Championships in the Sport Ireland National Indoor Arena.
Alex Wright (Leevale) broke race walking legend Robert Heffernan’s (Togher) 5,000m record to win gold in 18:50.70 while Sharlene Mawdsley (Newport) broke the national junior 200m record to win her heat in 23.85.
The women’s 3,000m was the highlight race with three Olympians toeing the line and multiple internationals including two-time European Cross Country Champion Fionnuala McCormack (Kilcoole).
The Wicklow woman, who ran the Barcelona half marathon last week, lead the opening stages of the race with Mageean and Leevale’s Olympic steeplechase Michelle Finn in close pursuit. Around the halfway stage Finn split the pack and only Mageean could hold on to the pace. The UCD woman eased away in the final 400m to win in 9:08.83 to Finn’s 9:12.61 with McCormack third in 9:15.58.
“I was happy with that especially with the field,” said Mageean who has had a difficult week battling with a head cold and the passing of her granny in Portaferry. “It’s been difficult and I’ll probably be coughing all the way home to Portaferry tonight but at least I have something to show for it.”
Kate Veale (West Waterford) was a popular first winner on the track with the former world youth champion on top of the podium in the women’s 3,000m race walk in 14:03.90 from Emma Prendiville (Farranfore Maine Valley) in 14:06.54 and Maeve Curley (Craughwell) in 14:18.26.
“I’m really happy to be back. I’ve a long way to go to get back to my best but I’ve made my first steps,” said Veale afterwards. “I rejected the rigid athlete lifestyle but I’m happy to be back and want to make up for lost time.”
Alex Wright has been in excellent form this indoor season and made it three wins from three starts. “It’s been a great season so far and I’m racing a 20km in Switzerland next week,” said Wright afterwards. “I’ll look to focus on one event come the world championships in London this summer.
Michaela Walsh (Swinford) won the women’s shot put with an indoor personal best of 14.95m and the fifth year schoolgirl was happy with the win. “The shot put is more difficult indoors and I was happy to get a personal best today.”
Mid Sutton’s Sarah McCarthy won the women’s long jump as expected with a best of 6.03m while Sommer Lecky (Finn Valley) continued her fine form with a personal best of 1.81m in the women’s high jump.
In the men’s field events Antony Daffurn (St Ronan’s) won the triple jump with a best of 14.83m and Thomas Houlihan (West Waterford) added the national senior title to his University crown with 4.55m.