Tuesday 28 January 2020

O Lionaird and Robinson make 1500m final with bad boy Benabbad

Cliona Foley

TWO out of Ireland's three metric milers have reached tomorrow's 1500m final (13:05).

Experienced Leevale man Ciaran O Lionaird was initially disappointed after finishing seventh in the opening semi-final that saw athletics' new vest-munching 'enfant terrible' Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad take third.

But the Corkman would later be grateful for the fast pace set by Norway's Henrik Ingebrigsten (3:39.32) as all the 'fastest losers' to get through came from that opening heat.

The Corkman's time of 3:39:79 was just five tenths off the winner and faster than Kilcock man Paul Robinson (St Coca's), whose fourth place (3:39:83) in the second heat, won by Britain's Chris O'Hare (3:39:24), ensured automatic qualification.

Donore's John Travers (23), a student at IT Athlone, tried to come from behind in the final dust-up in the first heat, but only finished 14th (3:49:74) on his debut at this level.

O Lionaird survived getting boxed in a few times and criticised himself for "riding the rail" too much, which almost backfired on him.

"It's not the way I wanted to get through but I did fight for it. I'm back in a European final 10 months after (Achilles) surgery, so that's good," said the former World finalist.

DCU student Robinson, a first cousin of Shamrock Rovers' Ciaran Kilduff, was a fourth-place finisher at European U-23s last year.

"I just tried to put myself in the right position and keep it all until the last 600m," he said. "I believe in my kick but that last 100m I was running for my life!"

Irish attention switches first to today's marathon, where Fionnuala Britton and DSD'S Sarah Mulligan make their debuts alongside Clonliffe's Barbara Sanchez, with team medals available for the first time.

Brian Gregan, Brian Murphy, Richard Morrissey and Tom Barr is the line-up for today's 4x400m heats, while Amy Foster, Kelly Proper, Sarah Lavin and Phil Healy is the 4x100m order.

Irish Independent

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