World University Games champion Thomas Barr among the winners at National Senior Athletics Championships
POOR weather conditions and a timetable clash with the Republic of Ireland’s European Championships match with France took away from the usual atmosphere at the GloHealth National Senior Track & Field Championships at Morton Stadium, Dublin.
It was also the last opportunity for athletes to stake a claim to a place on the Irish team for the European Championships to be held next week (July 6 -10) in Amsterdam.
Two athletes considered to be Ireland’s best hopes of reaching a final at the Rio Olympics made smooth returns to competition after extended absences through injury.
World University Games champion Thomas Barr was first in action and, after a solid first 300 metres, turned in his trademark strong finish to win the 400m Hurdles in 50.28.
Belfast man Jason Harvey showed a return to form to take the silver medal in a seasonal best of 51.30 seconds.
The field played into Mark English’s hands in the 800m going through the opening lap in a fairly pedestrian 57 seconds with the Letterkenny man languishing at the back of the field.
English did not appear to extend himself until the final 100m where he went smoothly through the gears to claim a facile win in 1:51.48. Fellow Donegal man Karl Griffin finished impressively to claim the bronze medal in 1:51.83.
Ben Reynolds achieved the 13.90 standard for the Europeans in the 110m Hurdles but only by the skin of his teeth.
The North Down athlete was well clear from the first hurdle before distancing himself from the opposition to break the tape in 13.94 seconds according to the track side clock.
However, that was revised to 13.89 by the officials upstairs giving Reynolds almost certain selection to Amsterdam. There was double delight for the Reynolds family with older brother Tom taking the bronze medal in 14.96.
There was a Northern double in the 100m events. City of Lisburn’s Amy Foster grabbed the women’s title in 11.83 seconds after battling a headwind of 2.1 metres per second.
Derry Track Club’s Jason Smyth followed that with a victory in the men’s race in 10.71, in this instance against a 1.9 m/s wind, with Ballymena’s Jon Browning claiming the runner-up spot just four-hundredths back.
Portaferry woman Ciara Mageean threw in a last lap of 61 seconds to move decisively away from her pursuers in the 1500m, winning in 4:24.33. World Masters’ champion Kelly Neely was a deserving third in 4:27.68.
Most surprising winner of the day had to be Conor Duffy. Only runner-up in the Ulster championships, the Glaslough Harrier had his best ever day as he charged through on the home straight to snatch victory from City of Derry’s Conor Bradley in the 5000m in a personal best 14:32.85.
Finn Valley’s Somer Lecky became the first Tyrone woman to win a national senior title taking the High Jump in 1.71m and that after winning the Tailteann Games at the same venue the previous day.
Tirconnell’s Kelly McGrory pipped Finn Valley’s Arlene Crossan to win the 400m Hurdles in 61.23. Bellaghy’s Adam McMullen was a class apart in the Long Jump with a 7.52m winning effort. Lagan Valley’s Jack Agnew took the 800m Wheelchair race in a fast 1:46.10.
Meanwhile the focus up north was on the Northern Ireland Masters’ championships at the Mary Peters Track. Phillip Tweedie impressed with a fine 800m/1500m double in the M50 age group.
Omagh dentist Deirdre Haigney also cut a fine figure as she romped to a brace of victories over 200m and 400m in the F40 category. European Indoor 1500m champion Denise Toner dropped down in distance to take the F35 400m and 800m gold medals.