Sunday 20 January 2019

Mageean takes big step forward on road to Berlin

Ciara Mageean on way to finishing second in 800m. Photo: Sportsfile
Ciara Mageean on way to finishing second in 800m. Photo: Sportsfile

Cathal Dennehy

It was good night for Ciara Mageean, a bad night for Mark English, but an all-round uplifting night for Irish athletics.

The crowds turned out in their droves at a sun-drenched Santry last night for the Morton Games, where 1500m specialist Ciara Mageean ignited hope that she can repeat her 2016 medal-winning feats when she returns to the European Championships in Berlin next month.

The 26-year-old turned in a strong performance in the women's 800m, finishing second in a high-class field in 2:02.13. That was the second fastest time of her career and comes off the back of a big run over 1500m a week ago in Barcelona, where she clocked a season's best of 4:04.13.

Mageean was the European 1500m bronze medallist in 2016 and, with a little over a fortnight until this year's edition, she appears to be coming into form for a repeat performance.

The race was won by USA's Hanna Green in 2:01.66, with Dubliner Síofra Cléirigh-Buttner also impressing in fourth with 2:02.63.

There were worrying signs, however, from Mark English, the European 800m bronze medallist in 2014, who pulled up injured in the men's 800m with less than 100 metres to run.

At the time, English had been fading out of contention, and the 25-year-old must now be a serious doubt for next month's European Championships. The race was won by USA's Boris Berian in 1:45.72, with Zak Curran the leading Irish finisher in fourth with 1:47.08.

In the concluding event of the night, the Morton Mile, 19-year-old Dubliner Brian Fay narrowly missed out on a piece of Irish athletics history. Fay made a bold bid to become Ireland's youngest ever outdoor sub-four-minute miler but came up just shy, finishing 13th in 4:00.45.

The race was won by USA's Sam Prakel in 3:55.80, with John Travers the first Irishman home in sixth in 3:57.34, a race where the first 11 athletes broke the illustrious four-minute barrier.

In the women's 400m, Ireland's fastest woman made a bold bid for glory, Bandon's Phil Healy fading over the final 50 metres to come home second in 52.88 behind winner Maggie Barrie of Sierra Leone. Stephen Scullion was the leading Irishman in the men's 5000m, the Belfast man finishing seventh in 13:50.04 in a race won by Australia's Brett Robinson in 13:26.50.

After his breakthrough over 200m earlier this week in Cork, Marcus Lawler had another strong showing in last night's men's 100m, finishing seventh in a high-class field in 10.54.

There was drama in the women's 1500m where USA's Elinor Purrier gifted the race to compatriot Emily Lipari via an early celebration, Lipari snatching victory in 4:08.01. The leading Irish finisher was Amy O'Donoghue in 4:17.03, who just edged a tired Sarah Healy, the two-time European U-18 champion who closed an outstanding season with 11th place in 4:17.37.

Canada's Crystal Emmanuel was a highly impressive winner of the women's 100m in 11.44, while the men's 400m was won in fine style by Donald Sanford in 45.81.

Irish Independent

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