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Eviston ecstatic at Santry show

FOR the athletics community, the National Track and Field Championships are about far more than competition.

Athletes, long retired, make their annual visit to Santry, renewing friendships and assessing the form of the sport's rising stars.

They would have seen plenty to please them last weekend.

On the track, a thrilling men's 400m hurdles saw 19-year-old Thomas Barr of Ferrybank setting a new Irish junior record of 50.06 seconds with Jason Harvey just behind him on 50.65.

A closely fought triple jump was won by Eoin Kelly of St Abban's with a best of 14.58m.

Pole vault champion Dave Donegan only came into the competition at 4.70, which he cleared to defend his title, before failing at 4.80. Ruairi O Briain made 4.70 on his third attempt for second.

Taking a first national senior title for Dunleer was Thomas Cotter in the steeplechase. In 2008, Cotter was a bright star of the sport, setting a Leinster schools record. He proved that he was back with a bang at Santry. With nothing to keep him in Ireland, he's returning to his US base in Wichita.

Throws fans enjoyed an encouraging weekend. Conor McCullough, son of three-times Irish champion, Conor, threw 72.67 to win the hammer -- close to his father's 1988 championships best of 74.16.



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Tomas Rautkas of Clonliffe also caught the eye, winning the discus with 52.06. One to watch is 19-year-old Claire Fitzgerald from Tralee. Her winning throw of 50.07 was the best seen in this country for almost 20 years. Fitzgerald also won the shot and was second in the javelin.

Taking the women's hammer with 57.62 was Ferrybank's Cara Kennedy, only slightly short of her national junior record.

In the women's javelin, Anita Fitzgibbon, still recovering from a shoulder injury, threw a personal best of 47.09.

On a weekend when young talent shone through, old masters still made their mark.

Paul Hession ran his fastest race of the year when winning the 200m, while hurdler Derval O'Rourke and race walker Rob Heffernan were winning a ninth national title apiece.

Best of all, at the age of 31, Raheny's Siobhan Eviston (pictured) won the 800m in a huge personal best when Ciara Mageean spectacularly blew up.

She must be still pinching herself!


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