Monday 25 September 2017

Britton stars as Ireland save First League status

Athletics

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

SECOND places from Fionnuala Britton and the women's 4x400m team, plus valuable fourths from Derval O'Rourke and Ciara Mageean, helped Ireland hold on to their First League status at the European Team Championships (First League) in Turkey yesterday.

The threat of relegation had loomed overnight, despite third places from Louth high-jumper Kourosh Foroughi (Star of the Sea) and the men's 4x100m team on Saturday. The sprint relay team included Paul Hession, who was fifth in the 200m in a season-best (20:65) but David Gillick's poor early-season form continued with seventh place (in 46.95) in the 400m.

However, Kilcoole steeplechaser Britton continued her excellent 5,000m form, finishing second in 15:37.78 behind Turkey's Alemitu Bekele (15:37.15) to lay the platform for survival.

And the women's 4x400m team of Joanne Cuddihy (KCH), Marian Heffernan (Togher), Claire Bergin (DSD) and Michelle Carey (Dublin Striders) also produced a vital podium position, finishing second in 3:31.25 to score high points.

O'Rourke ran a solid 13:11 in her season opener to take fourth, as did Mageean (City of Lisburn), in her first international 1500m this year which she ran in 4:27.20.

Ulster sprinters Jason Smyth and Amy Foster and young Clare 400m hurdler Timmy Crowe (Dooneen) also nicked vital points with fourth places on Saturday, the latter in a 51.59 PB which secured European U-23 qualifying.

Foster also ran a PB of 23.58 when sixth in the 200m yesterday.

But without the injured Ailis McSweeney and Kelly Proper there was bad luck for the women's 4x100m team who dropped the baton on their first changeover.

Another valuable fourth place was secured by Stephanie O'Reilly (Sli Cualann) in the women's steeplechase in 9:53.79. And Ferrybanks' Jessie Barr set a new PB and Irish U-23 record of 57.21 when fifth in the 400m hurdles.

With men's and women's results combined to provide final placings, and two of 12 teams being relegated, Ireland eventually survived by a 24-point margin, finishing 10th -- with 224.5 points.

Irish Independent

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