Wednesday 21 March 2018

Ferrybank flier Barr primed to lead Irish charge in Belgium

Thomas Barr, Ireland
Thomas Barr, Ireland
Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

Thomas Barr's amazing ability to get off to flying starts was underlined again this week when the talented Waterford 400m hurdler opened his season with a 50.54 run in Namur on Wednesday night.

That was Barr's 10th fastest time ever and a particularly promising showing for the 21-year-old Ferrybank flier. His time was less than two-tenths off the qualifying standard for the European Seniors in August.

Tomorrow he tackles the international in Oordegem (Belgium) which has attracted a particularly large group of young Irish talent, including Jason Harvey, Timmy Crowe and Paul Byrne, as well as sprint hurdler Sarah Lavin, the 4x100m men's and women's teams and 800m star Mark English.

Also in action will be Ciaran O Lionaird and Paul Robinson in the Prefontaine Classic in Oregon, while Leitrim race walker Laura Reynolds will compete in La Coruna.

At home there is only one place to be and that's in Tullamore Harriers tomorrow for the annual Aviva All-Ireland Schools finals.

Dundrum South Dublin's Siofra Cleirigh-Buttner will be one of the brightest young stars to watch with her remarkable underage winning record.

To see her attempting to sign off her schools career with another bid for an 800/1500m double will be worth the trip alone, not least her 800m tussle with Ulster's Aislinn Crossey who is herself chasing a 400/800m double.

Rising sprint stars like Zak Irwin and Keith Doherty, middle-distance talents like Harry Purcell, Andrew Coscoran and Aaron Hanlon and quarter-miler Brian Masterson are also among those competing.

A clash with the European Youth Olympic trials in Azerbaijan means 15 rising stars will miss the Schools, including Elizabeth Moreland, Phoebe Murphy, Roseanna McGuckian, Adam King, Louise Shanahan and Michaela Walsh.

Brian Gregan won his first schools medal over 400m hurdles before excelling at the 400m flat and said: "The All-Ireland Schools is a brilliant competition and acts as the benchmark for future success." The action runs from 9.0am-6.0pm.

Irish Independent

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