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European carrot adds to Morton magic

By now, the dramas and surprises of the Woodies DIY National Track and Field Championships in Santry have all been parsed, analysed and mulled over.

There were uplifting moments last weekend, in particular Gordon Kennedy's victory in the men's 400m, where he not only beat a man almost a decade younger but qualified for the European Championships.

There was drama, with the hugely talented Kelly Proper only retaining her long jump title with her final jump and, shortly afterwards, pipped by Ferrybank clubmate Niamh Whelan in the 200m, with both girls clocked at 23.68.

Then there were the established stars. Derval O'Rourke not only won her eighth 100m hurdles title, but helped her club Leevale to three of the four hurdles titles on offer.

Patrick Maher improved his own junior record when he won the 400m hurdles in 51.53, beating defending champion Tom Carey, while Edmond O'Halloran marked his first run over the higher hurdles with victory in 15.26.

Opting not to go for a ninth title in the 400m hurdles was Michele Carey of West Dublin, who instead finished third in the flat 400m -- a race which needed three heats. In her absence, victory went to Loughborough's Justine Kinney, with Brona Furlong of Slaney Olympic second.

Leevale had more cause to celebrate when Ailis McSweeney successfully defended her 100m title.

Over the longer distances, John Travers of Donore set a new championships best in the junior 3,000m.

Athletes qualified for the European Championships had to turn out over the weekend to copper-fasten their places, and to their credit, most did.

Alistair Cragg quietly lined out for the 5,000m and looked very good on his way to a smooth victory over Joe Sweeney. Even better, Cragg had run in Gateshead a day earlier and is currently ranked fifth in Europe.

Paul Hession won the 200m, while David Gillick lined out in the 100m heats after going under 54 seconds for 400 twice in the previous week.

After a superb time of 3:36.83 in Barcelona on Friday, Thomas Chamney survived a controversial heat in Santry before comfortably beating Darren McBrearty in the 800m final.

Cheering them all on was a cast of athletes and ex-athletes, for whom the annual championships is a rare chance to get together with old friends.

Not even the rain could spoil that!


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