Donegal woman Kelly McGrory take 400m hurdle title at Irish National Senior Track & Field Championships
THE windy and at times rainy conditions did not detract from the excitement of the final session of the 150th Irish National Senior Track & Field Championships. It also meant that the sparse crowd and live television viewers were treated to some enthralling tactical battles.
Donegal woman Kelly McGrory took full advantage of a lull in the wind to beat former champion Nessa Millet in the 400m hurdles. The strong Tir Chonnaill hurdler was always in charge and although the St Abban’s athlete mounted a comeback on the homestraight, McGrory was not to be denied.
Her 57.22 clocking was a personal record by over half a second on her previous best set the previous weekend in winning the NI & Ulster title. McGrory’s teenage clubmate Lucy McGlynn also broke new ground with her 60.00 clocking in third place making it a double celebration for their coach Eamon Harvey.
The final of the men’s 800m was eagerly anticipated and it did not disappoint. John Fitzsimons, the fastest Irish man at the two lap distance this year, cut out a more than respectable pace from the gun to put pressure defending champion and national record holder Mark English. But the Finn Valley athlete took Fitzsimons’s best shots before asserting his authority to win his eighth 800m title in 1:48.46.
Louise Shanahan dominated a slow-run women’s 800m. The Leevale athlete with the confidence of her first sub-2 clocking at the Belfast Miler’s Meeting in May, went to the front from the gun and led the field through a pedestrian opening lap of 70 seconds. The Cambridge University student waited until the final 120 metres before releasing her finishing sprint and going on to win emphatically in 2:10.90.
The men’s 5000m set the tone for the evening with Darragh McElhinney prevailing with an electric finish. The UCD athlete was in a group of four that broke away after the first mile. DSD’s Paul O’Donnell slipped off the back of the leaders as the pace quickened at the bell. McElhinney made his effort with 250m to run and although both Hiko Tonosa and Efrem Gidey responded, it was left to Tonosa to chase the Cork man down the home straight.
Rio Olympics fourth-placer Thomas Barr retained his men’s 400m hurdles but was pressed until the final straight before moving away to break the tape in 50.37 seconds. North Sligo’s Chris O’Donnell confirmed the tag as favourite for the 400m, coming home well clear in 46.82 seconds. There was an upset in the women’s one lap when Raheny’s Sophie Becker held off a determined challenge from defending champion Phil Healy to win in 52.34.
The new golden girl of Irish athletics Rhasidat Adeleke prevented another shock in the 100m when she got up on the line to deny St. Laurence O’Toole’s sprinter Molly Scott by a mere hundredths of a second in 11.68 seconds. UCD’s Joseph Olatunde was a class apart in the men’s 100m clocking an impressive 10.51 seconds despite running into a headwind.
Clonliffe’s Cathal Doyle (3:59.36) emerged as victor in a last lap burn up in the 1500m where Mid Ulster’s Nick Griggs finished a close-up fifth. Rathfarnham’s Carla Sweeney (4:37.96) was the winner of an equally tactical women’s 1500m.
In the field, NI Commonwealth heptathlete Kate O’Connor completed a full set of medals over the weekend with a victory in the javelin thanks to a best throw of 50.93m. Earlier the Dundalk resident had taken runner-up spot in the shot and third in the long jump. Tir Chonnaill’s Conall Mahon claimed the triple jump gold on countback after finishing level with Lagan Valley’s Jai Benson on 14.68m. Lifford-Strabane’s Gareth Crawford continued a family tradition in finishing runner-up in the javelin.
RESULTS – FINAL EVENING SESSION – IRISH T&F CHAMPS
100m (-1.7) – 1 Israel Olatunde (UCD) 10.51, 2 Joseph Ojewumi (Tallaght) 10.72, 3 Colin Doyle (Leevale) 10.78.
400m Hurdles – 1 Thomas Barr (Ferrybank) 50.37, 2 Jack Mitchell (SLOT) 51.64, 3 Thomas Pitkin (Clonliffe Hrs) 51.93.
400m – 1 Chris O’Donnell (North Sligo) 46.82, 2 Marcus Lawler (Clonliffe Hrs) 47.94, 3 Eanna Madden (Carrick-on-Shannon) 48.11.
800m – 1 Mark English (Finn Valley) 1:48.46, 2 John Fitzsimons (Kildare) 1:49.10, 3 Mark Milner (UCD) 1:50.58.
1500m – 1 Cathal Doyle (Clonliffe Hrs) 3:59.36, 2 Shane Bracken (Swinford) 3:59.99, 3 Paul Robinson (St Coca’s) 4:00.23, 5 Nick Griggs (Mid Ulster) 4:00.90.
5000m – 1 Darragh McElhinney (UCD) 13:53.84, 2 Hiko Haso Tonosa (DSD) 13:55.97, 3 Efrem Gidey (Clonliffe Hrs) 13:57.40.
Javelin – 1 Conor Cusack Lake District 64.55m, 2 Gareth Crawford Lifford-Strabane 63.71m, 3 Shane Aston Trim 59.49m.
Triple Jump – 1 Conall Mahon Tir Chonnaill 14.68m (+2.4), 2 Jai Benson Lagan Valley 14.68m (+1.9), 3 Joshua Knox City of Lisburn 13.76 (+2.1).
Pole Vault – 1 Matthew Callinan Keenan SLOT 4.50m, 2 Michael Bowler Enniscorthy 4.50m, 3 Conor Callinan Leevale 4.30m
100m (-2.6) – 1 Rhasidat Adeleke (Tallaght) 11.68, 2 Molly Scott (SLOT) 11.69, 3 Joan Healy (Leevale) 11.77.
400m – 1 Sophie Becker Raheny (Shamrock) 52.34, 2 Phil Healy (Bandon) 52.48, 3 Cliodhna Manning (Kilkenny) 53.05.
400m hurdles – 1 Kelly McGrory (Tir Chonnaill) 57.22 PB, 2 Nessa Millet (St Abban’s) 58.08, 3 Lucy McGlynn (Tir Chonnaill) 60.00 PB.
800m – 1 Louise Shanahan 2:10.90, 2 Jenna Bromell (Emerald) 2:11.96, 3 Claire Mooney (Naas) 2:12.18
1500m – 1 Carla Sweeney (Rathfarnham) 4:37.96, 2 Maisy O’Sullivan (St Abban’s) 4:38.53, 3 Niamh Markham (Ennis) 4:39.21.