Mageean squeezes into final on dismal day for Irish
As starts go, this was as bad as it gets. The first day of the European Indoor Championships saw a swathe of under-performances from the Irish, their one shining light was a typically battling performance from Ciara Mageean.
However, the 24-year-old had to dig far deeper than she would have liked to reach this evening's 1500m final, where prior hopes of a medal now appear more delusional than optimistic.
Mageean needed to finish in the top two in yesterday's heat to automatically advance, and though she put herself in an ideal position, she found herself wading through treacle up the home straight and faded to fourth in 4:12.81.
That meant a nervous wait as she watched the final heat, when her time was confirmed as quick enough to take the last non-automatic spot.
"That's not the way I wanted to do it," she said. "I wanted to secure it more convincingly, but at least I'm in."
Elsewhere, Brian Gregan offered no excuses for his run in the 400m semi-final, having advanced automatically from his heat. "I was very, very flat," he said. "It was just a poor run - shocking."
Zak Curran or Tomas Cotter were eliminated from the 800m and 3,000m respectively after lifeless performances.
John Travers was knocked out in the men's 1500m heats after slowing to a near-stop following a false start which was not recalled, and after losing upwards of 40 metres, Travers trailed home last in 3:59.72. However, he was re-instated for tonight's final after an appeal by the Irish management.
Kerry O'Flaherty was also way off her best in the women's 1500m heats, finishing sixth in 4:23.82, while Sinead Denny and Phil Healy bowed out in the 400m heats, as did Ben Reynolds in the 60m hurdles.
Irish in action today
Women's 60m heats (8.45am): Ciara Neville, Phil Healy
Women's 1500m final (6.45pm): Ciara Mageean
Men's 1500m final (7.18pm): John Travers