Monday 24 June 2019

English and Mageean lead way for Ireland

Ciara Mageean. Photo: Sportsfile
Ciara Mageean. Photo: Sportsfile

Cathal Dennehy

One down, two to go, and if Ireland is to come away with a medal from the European Indoor Championships it will be back to the old reliables: middle-distance stars.

Mark English and Ciara Mageean are already European medallists outdoors, and they will now carry the can for an embattled team that failed to fire on day one.

English was best of all, the 25-year-old looking serene as he cruised to victory in his 800m heat in 1:49.38.

"It felt very easy, I don't think tomorrow will be so easy but that's the nature of the game," said English, who will line up in today's 800m semi-final.

Mageean became the first Irish athlete to reach a final, but she had to dig deep to do so. She tracked chief rival Simona Vrzalova through her 1,500m heat before attempting to kick past in the straight, but her tank was suddenly empty.

Mageean's third place in 4:08.15 got her to tomorrow's final, but the 26-year-old was left in a dire state of fatigue, retreating outside to vomit.

"I was a wee bit disappointed as I wanted an automatic qualifier but I'm through," she said.

There was no such luck for Phil Healy, whose face said it all after her 400m heat. It was an expression of surprised anguish, of an athlete who knew, in the space of 50 faltering final metres, any medal chance had evaporated.

The 24-year-old's bid to reach the women's 400m final ended in dismay in last night's semi-finals - Healy coming home third in 53.65 - but the seeds of her shortfall were sown hours before.

It was in the afternoon's heats where she miscalculated her distribution of energy, fading from first to third, crossing the line in 53.13, leaving her in the difficult lane two for the semi-final.

There was disappointment, too, for Thomas Barr, the Waterford star turning in one of his worst performances in an Irish vest, finishing fifth in his 400m heat in 48.22.

Irish in action

Men's 60m heats: Joseph Ojewumi (10.25am)

Women's 60m heats: Ciara Neville (11.13am), Lauren Roy (11.45am), Molly Scott (11.53am)

Men's 800m semi-finals: Mark English (6.25pm)

Women's 60m semi-finals: *Ciara Neville, Lauren Roy, Molly Scott (6.50pm)

Men's 60m semi-finals: *Joseph Ojewumi (7.20pm) *Pending qualification

European Indoors, Live, RTÉ2, 6.0pm; BBC1, 9.30am; Eurosport 2, 6.45pm

Irish Independent

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