Cathal Doyle edges out battling Nick Griggs in thrilling 1500m finale

The Tyrone man closed the gap from last year’s renewal but still came up agonisingly short

Cathal Doyle and Nick Griggs
Cathal Doyle and Nick Griggs Cathal Doyle (right) stoops to conquer against Nick Griggs in the 1500m in the National Indoor Championships at Abbotstown (SYSTEM)

THE absence of many of the sport’s top stars did not take away from an exciting two days of competition at the National Indoor Championships in the NIA, Abbotstown.

It was déjà vu in the men’s 1500m as the finishing positions of 2023 were repeated, although on this occasion Cathal Doyle’s margin of victory over Nick Griggs was greatly reduced to just four-hundredths of a second.

After a pedestrian opening 1200m, Doyle made his move and led at the bell where Griggs was impeded in trying to extricate from the inside lane to challenge. While Doyle had a clear run down the back straight, the Tyrone teenager found himself battling to close the gap.

Both men entered the final straight shoulder to shoulder and the title was only decided when the pair threw themselves at the finishing line with the Clonliffe Harrier getting the decision by the narrowest of margins in 3:49.11.

Lagan Valley’s Lughaidh Mallon finished strongly to take third in 3:50.91.

Other highlights yesterday included Newport AC’s Sharon Mawdsley winning what was surprisingly her first national indoor title with a gun to tape victory in the 400m, clocking a fast 52.04 seconds.

Tallaght sprinter Israel Olatunde retained his 60m title in 6.71 seconds while Carlow woman Molly Scott took the women’s short sprint in 7.36. Leevale’s Louise Shanahan (2:03.54) and Cian McPhillips (1:52.79) both impressed in winning their respective 800m titles.

Ulster medallists yesterday included Finn Valley’s Lauren Callaghan (6:02), runner-up in the women’s long jump; Candour TC’s Callum Morgan who took the bronze medal in the men’s 3000m, recording a time of 8:19.29 behind popular winner Donore Harrier John Travers (8:13.17).

Tír Chonnaill’s Geraldine Stewart was also a bronze medallist, in the shot put with a throw of 11.74m.

Sarah Lavin was the outstanding performer on day one of the championships on Saturday with the Limerick woman claiming her sixth 60m hurdles title with a stunning 7.91 clocking which equalled her personal best. That gained her the Athlete of the Meeting award.

Ulster athletes were among the medals with Lagan Valley’s Jai Benson defending his triple jump title with a best of 14.25m.

Tír Chonnaill’s Conall Mahon filled the runner-up spot behind Benson with a 14.02m best.

Finn Valley’s Sommer Lecky claimed the silver medal in the high jump with a clearance of 1.79m while her clubmate Bridget McDyer was third in the women’s weight for distance getting out to 6.50m.

Annadale Striders regained the NI & Ulster Senior Cross Country team title from North Belfast Harriers at Carndonagh yesterday.

North’s Finn McNally retained his individual crown convincingly.

Emily Haggard-Kearney, running as an individual, was the winner of the women’s race where North Belfast Harriers deposed St Peter’s, Lurgan as team champions.

Earlier yesterday Ann-Marie McGlynn missed out on Olympic qualification at the Seville Marathon.

The Letterkenny AC athlete needed a time of 2:26:50 to book her place on the start line in the Paris Olympics this summer but ended up recording 2:33:31 for 40th place in the women’s race.

Leevale AC’s Ryan Creech set a personal best of 2:12:28 for 58th in the men’s race.

Deresa Geleta was the winner of the men’s race in 2:03:26 while Azmera Gebru made it an Ethiopian double with a victory in the women’s race in a time of 2:22:13.