Mageean eyes medal after cruising into final
Seconds out, round two. With barely enough time to draw breath from Thomas Barr's historic bronze medal on Thursday night, Ciara Mageean is now shaping up to emulate his achievement.
The 26-year-old Portaferry native breezed through her 1,500m heat at the European Championships in Berlin yesterday, igniting hope among the Irish faithful that a second medal may be on the cards.
In tomorrow night's final (7.0), Mageean will line up with her form floating somewhere close to what it was two years ago, when she won the European bronze medal over 1,500m.
This time around, the task will be a trickier one given the presence in the field of Laura Muir, the Scottish 25-year-old who appears the very definition of different class in this company. She has run 3:55.22 for 1,500m, and such is her ability that she dropped down to 800m last month and cruised to victory at the British Championships.
Yesterday Muir coasted to victory in 4:09.12, a couple of metres in front of Mageean who was a picture of controlled class as she reached the line in 4:09.35.
"My only tactic and instruction was to qualify and to finish as far up as I could," said Mageean.
"I didn't want to be sitting there worrying about a fastest-loser spot so my aim was top three."
After enduring a string of poor championships over the last two years, Mageean (right) has roared back to form under the guidance of coach Steve Vernon, who has overseen Mageean's career since she joined his professional running group in Manchester last November.
"Everybody tells me that class is permanent so I'm going to go out there and show that class that I have. Growing up in Portaferry playing camógie, I'm tough, and I put in a hell of a lot of training over the last few years. That should stand to me."
At 26, and by now a veteran championship performer, Mageean is well versed in the approach needed for the biggest days.
"The race is the easy part because once you step on the track you feel most comfortable.
"Dealing with the nerves and all the little voices in the head is the tough part, but I can take confidence from all the championships I've done before."
Elsewhere yesterday Phil Healy reached her second semi-final of the week in the women's 200m, where the 23-year-old Bandon sprinter bowed out after finishing fourth in 23.23.
Steeplechasers Kerry O'Flaherty and Michelle Finn were both well off their best, coming home 17th in 10:09.71 and 16th in 10:10.93 in their respective heats.
The men's 4x400m relay team of Chris O'Donnell, Brandon Arrey, Leon Reid and Thomas Barr had to settle for a fifth-place finish in their heat in 3:06.55, while the women's team of Sinead Denny, Sophie Becker, Davicia Patterson and Claire Mooney finished eighth in their heat in 3:35.96.
Meanwhile, Norwegian track prodigy Jakob Ingebrigtsen upstaged his two older brothers to claim a memorable gold in the men's European 1,500m in Berlin last night aged just 17.
Irish in action
Cian McManamon, Alex Wright (20km race walk) 9.55am (Irish time)
Breege Connolly, Gladys Ganiel, Lizzie Lee (women's marathon) 8.05am
Kevin Seaward, Mick Clohisey, Paul Pollock, Sean Hehir, Sergiu Ciobanu (men's marathon) 9.0am
Women's 4x100m: heats, 6.20pm; final, 8.20pm
Ciara Mageean (women's 1,500m final) 7.0pm