Athletics

Ciara Mageean heads Ireland team for European Indoor Championships

Ciara Mageean will go to Belgrade as part of the Ireland team for the European Indoor Championships next month
Malcolm McCausland

ATHLETICS Ireland has named an 11-strong team for the European Indoor Championships in Belgrade from on March 3 to 5.

Ciara Mageean heads the squad, but the Portaferry woman may not compete unless she is ready according to her coach Jerry Kiernan.

Mageean could be considered the best medal prospect of the 11 athletes, having taken a 1500m bronze medal at the Europeans in Amsterdam last summer. Following an arduous week, in which she lost her grandmother, she still won the national 3,000m title last weekend, despite suffering a heavy cold, defeating two other Rio Olympians in Michelle Finn and Fionnuala McCormack.

While admiring her fortitude, Kiernan was not impressed by his charge's style of victory at the new indoor facility at Abbotstown.

“She ran okay, nothing particularly special, but maybe what was more important for me was that she was actually happy enough afterwards because it has been a very bad week for her,” said Kiernan.

“She ran moderately in Athlone on Wednesday but we were here nine or ten days ago and she looked absolutely superb. I wouldn't rave about the time, I wouldn't even rave about how she actually looked because I've seen her an awful lot better.

“So, she'll do a couple of workouts next week and she'll most likely go to the Europeans but only if she gets her sparkle back because, for Ciara, there is no point in going unless she feels that she can actually win a medal.”

There are three other northerners included in the team. Rio Olympian Kerry O'Flaherty joins her fellow Down woman in the 1500m while Amy Foster returns from Australia for the 60m.

Ben Reynolds takes in the 60m hurdles after picking up the national title at the event last weekend.

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