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Síofra is setting high standards

AN interesting side effect of the road running boom has been a move back to the track by club athletes looking for quality racing.

Who would ever have thought that 24 athletes would enter a Dublin 800m Championships race as they did last Wednesday in Irishtown?

In an effort to improve their times, club athletes, from juniors to veterans, are travelling not only to track meets all over this island, but across the Irish Sea to British Milers Club races in England.

Highlight of the past week on the track was DSD's Síofra Clérigh Buttner's world junior qualifying time of 2mins 4.82secs for 800m in Irishtown. The scary news for her rivals is that Buttner (pictured), 17 in a few weeks' time, has moved into the senior ranks.

Also in Irishtown, Irish 800m champion Siobhan Eviston of Raheny Shamrock won the 400m in 55.86, while in the 100m, Catherine McManus of Celtic DCH came home ahead of Celbridge's Claire Brady and Aoife MacNeill of DSD. Highlight in the field was a fine 16.17m from Tomas Rauktys of Clonliffe in the men's shot.

Eviston was part of a large Irish presence at the BMC Meet in Watford where she ran 2:05.21 to win an 800m race -- faster than the 2:06.68 she had run at the IMC 800m in Tullamore a week earlier.

Paul Robinson of St Coca's marginally improved on his best when he ran 3:39.92 for 1,500m, chased home by Rory Chesser of Ennis TC in 3:40.78.

Orla Drumm of UCC ran a useful 4:12.22 for third place in the women's 1,500m 'A' race, just ahead of Ciara Mageean of UCD and Kelly McNeice of Lisburn. All three finished ahead of England international Steph Twell. Knocking four seconds off her previous best when she finished in 4:16.53 was Sara Treacy of Moynalvey.

In the men's 5,000m, Tomas Fitzpatrick of Tallaght broke 14 minutes for the first time, while John Coghlan of MSB and Annadale's Paddy Hamilton also improved on their previous times.

A day later in Bedford, Joanne Cuddihy ran 23.64 to win a closely contested 200m. Cuddihy also finished second in her specialist 400m, with a time of 51.78 -- a second off her 50.73 Irish record.

Third was Michelle Carey of Dublin Striders in 53.31, while in another race, sister Caitriona clocked 54.59.