Friday 19 January 2018

Athletics - Dara Kervick reaches Euro mark in style

Claire Tarplee (Dundrum South Dublin AC) falls as eventual winner Kerry O'Flaherty (Newcastle and District AC) races for the line in the Women's 1,500m final of the GloHealth Senior Indoor Championships in AIT
Claire Tarplee (Dundrum South Dublin AC) falls as eventual winner Kerry O'Flaherty (Newcastle and District AC) races for the line in the Women's 1,500m final of the GloHealth Senior Indoor Championships in AIT
Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

AFTER all the controversy midweek about Athlone’s starting system, Athletics Ireland officials made good on their promise to sort it and it recorded just one false start during the two days of the GloHealth National Indoors.

Yet, bizarrely, the technical gremlins that dogged Athlone IT’s big international meet last Wednesday struck again and hit the national broadcaster this time.

RTE 2 was due to broadcast an hour of televised highlights from ‘Nationals’ last night but they were initially replaced by Top Gear due to what Montrose described as “technical problems” and the athletics package was eventually televised four and a half hours after its intended schedule.

Those lucky enough to be in Athlone IT in person saw a long-jumper and a quarter-miler provide the breakthrough performances of the weekend.

Tipperary’s Dara Kervick (Clonliffe) had come agonisingly close to the European Indoor 400m qualifying time in the AAI Games and Intervarsities this season and he finally cracked it in Saturday with his run of 46:80.

He followed that with a winning time of 46:53 yesterday, which not only put him fifth on the Irish all-time indoor list but eighth in the current European rankings.

“It felt so easy, I didn’t think I was going that fast. It was great to do it day after day,” Kervick said of his impressive back-to-back performances.

The other man cracking a major milestone was Ulster long-jumper Adam McMullen of Crusaders, whose lifetime best of 7:80m was not just a stadium record but equalled the qualifying distance for Prague.

Leevale’s silver medallist Sam Healy also laid down a marker by leaping 7:53m, which broke Ciaran McDonagh’s 20-year-old Irish junior record of 7:37m. Kervick is coached by John Shields who provided all three of the medallists in the 400m (Paul Murphy and Harry Purcell) and also the surprise winner of the men’s 60m.

It was tipped to be a blast-off between Marcus Lawler and Zak Irwin who had both run 6:83 this season but Clonliffe’s Keith Pike came through strongly to win it in 6:86. Lawler bounced back though with a stadium record of 21:08 in the 200m final.

Ferrybank’s multi-talented Kelly Proper did yet another treble — winning the 60m, 200m and long-jump — to take her record number of Irish indoor titles to 19 with a stadium record of 23:27 in the 200m.

But her bid to qualify for Europeans was narrowly thwarted, particularly in the 60m where her winning time of 7:38 was just two hundredths short of the qualifying standard.

The surprise in the women’s 60m was that Bandon’s Phil Healy was only fourth, with silver going to Emerald’s teenager Ciara Neville (who set an Irish youth record of 7:45 in the heats) and bronze to DCH’s Catherine McManus who also took her first national senior title in the 60m hurdles.

After securing European qualifying with his 1:47:17 run in Birmingham on Saturday Mark English returned to retain his national 800m title in 1:51.34, with Declan Murray (Clonliffe) just two tenths behind him and Ferrybank’s Niall Tuohy third (1:52:35).

Despite getting the European qualifying time in America recently Ciara Mageean did not compete and has decided not to go to Prague, which means UCD’s Ciara Everard will be the only woman on Ireland’s nine-athlete team next month.

She won her fifth indoor 800m title with 2:06 and Kerry O’Flaherty won the 1500m after Claire Tarplee fell in the final stages but recovered to take bronze behind Laura Crowe. Rubbing shoulders with the superstars midweek inspired St Abban’s high jump champion Barry Pender to a personal best of 2:20m but he narrowly missed the European standard of 2.22m.

Galway’s five in-a-row shot champion Sean Breathnach added nearly another 30cm to his own  stadium record with a putt of 17.42m and Clonliffe’s joint pole-vault champions Ian Rogers and David Donegan also shared an arena record by clearing 4:80m.

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