Healy eyes Euro tilt after National glory
Phil Healy's victory in a thrilling women's 400m was the highlight of the second day of the Irish Life Health National Indoor Championships in Abbotstown.
The Bandon sprinter opted out of the 60m to focus solely on the two-lap clash with rival Sinéad Denny.
And it proved justified when she raced to the lead early and then held to win in 53.49 - well inside the qualifying standard of 53.75 for next month's European Indoor Championships in Belgrade. Denny finished a close second in 53.74.
"I was out just to get the title because I knew it'd be a tough race, but it's brilliant to get the win and have the reward of the qualifying time," said Healy, who will now choose between the 60m and 400m in Belgrade.
Brian Gregan roared back to form in the men's 400m, controlling the race from the front to win in 46.59 - his fastest time indoors since 2013. Clonliffe team-mate Luke Lennon-Ford came home second in 47.05.
"Things are starting to go well," said Gregan. "It's a good solid clocking. It was all about keeping relaxed and having good form the whole way through. Indoor 400s can be a bit of a lottery, so I'll take it each round at a time at the Europeans."
Ciara Neville lived up to her favourite's billing in the women's 60m, taking gold in 7.43 despite a sluggish start. The 17-year-old has yet to decide whether she will compete in Belgrade.
Newport's Sharlene Mawdsley edged the women's 200m in 24.04, but it was in Saturday's heats where she truly made an impression, blasting to a national junior indoor record of 23.85.
John Travers of Donore left it very late in the men's 1500m, speeding by Paul Robinson just metres from the finish to edge victory, 3:50.44 to 3:50.55.
On Saturday, the women's 3,000m served up a high-calibre contest, with Olympic trio Ciara Mageean, Fionnuala McCormack and Michelle Finn battling it out. McCormack cut out much of the early running, before Finn split the pack with a surge at halfway.
Waiting patiently, however, was Mageean, who unleashed a potent turn of speed over the final 400m to take gold in 9:08.83 to Finn's 9:12.61. McCormack took third in 9:15.58.
Leevale's Alex Wright broke Rob Heffernan's national record in the 5,000m race walk when taking gold in 18:50.70.
In the women's 3,000m race walk, former world youth champion Kate Veale returned after a long absence and won in 14:03.90.