Andrew Coscoran books place in 1500m final at European Championship as Griggs misses out

Irish athletes struggle to make progress on Monday morning in Rome

ROME, ITALY - JUNE 10: Athletes compete in the Men's 1500m Heats on day four of the 26th European Athletics Championships - Rome 2024 at Stadio Olimpico on June 10, 2024 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Mattia Ozbot/Getty Images for European Athletics)
Nick Griggs found it tough in his 150m heat on day four of the 26th European Athletics Championships in Rome (Photo by Mattia Ozbot/Getty Images for European Athletics) (Mattia Ozbot/Getty Images for European Athlet)

After the euphoria surrounding Ciara Mageean’s victory on Sunday night, it was back to reality for the Irish athletes competing on Monday morning at the European Athletics Championships in Rome.

Only one of the five advanced to a final and that was Andrew Coscoran who was rewarded for some brave and bold tactics with a place in the 1500m final on Wednesday night. Coscoran was always well placed in an honestly run race with the field going through the first lap in 59 seconds and 800m in 2:01 before striking the front at the bell.

The Co Dublin athlete stuck to his task on the last lap, well clear of the carnage which saw four athletes hit the track on the penultimate bend, before coming home safely in fifth recording a time of 3:38.52, and safely within the top six who will contest the final on Wednesday night.

Remarkable about this race was the fact that defending champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen was 25 metres adrift of the field early on before powering through in the last furlong to take the victory in 3:37.65.

It was a lack of finishing power in the final 200m that saw Nick Griggs fail to qualify from the other semi-final. The Tyrone 19-year-old looked like a boy among men as the 14 competitors took their place on the starting line.

And Griggs seemed to struggle for a strategic position as the race went off at a pedestrian pace at this level. He was running wide in and around seventh place for most of the race after opening laps of 64 and 66 seconds.

When the pace quickened after 800m, he slipped back and was well out of contention when he crossed the finish line in 14th with a time of 3:46.66. The semi-final was won by Britain’s Neil Gourley in 3:44.05 after the Scot threw in a final 300m marginally under 39 seconds and thereby hangs the tale for the young Tyrone athlete.

Griggs offered no excuses in the post-race interview and was quite blunt in the assessment of his performance: “The way the race went, I thought this might suit me if it gets down to a last lap burn-up.

“Honest opinion - there’s no sugar-coating – I’m just not good enough to compete with these – it’s an honest assessment where I’m at and it’s frustrating because it’s where I want to be – competing against the best in Europe and the best in the world.”

One of Ireland’s gold medal relay quartet was in action but no Midas touch this time for Thomas Barr who exited the 400m hurdles after a battling fourth place in his semi-final in 49.61 seconds.

Only the top two went through automatically and the Waterford man was not one of the two fastest non-qualifiers.

Belfast-based Louise Shanahan was well adrift in her 800m semi won by Britain’s world indoor champion Keely Hodgkinson in a slow 2:02.46. Shanahan crossed the line sixth in 2:04.81. Phil Healy was also off the pace in the women’s 200m preliminary round, finishing fifth in her heat in 23.51.

The Bandon Bullet would have needed 23.42 or faster to have gone through to the semi-finals of the event. Healy will have the opportunity of redemption in the heats of the women’s 4x400m relay on Tuesday.