Mark English to lead Irish charge in Prague
IRELAND'S European 800m bronze medallist Mark English will lead a 12-strong Irish team at the European Indoor Championships in Prague in two weeks time.
The tall Donegal star got the qualification standard when he ran 1:47:17 in Birmingham last Saturday and what pleased him just as much was winning the national title 24 hours later.
"It indicates to me that I am able to put two races back-to-back, hopefully I can simulate that in the Europeans because that is going to be the real challenge in a championships," said the 21 year-old UCD medical student who brought home bronze from Zurich last summer.
The Irish team includes another half-miler in Clonliffe's Irish-American Declan Murray and English's UCD teammate Ciara Everard, who made the final in Gothenburg two years ago, is also racing the 800m and is, unusually, the only woman on the team.
John Travers (Donore) and Danny Mooney (Letterkenny) will both compete in the 1500m and Mooney is making his debut at this level in a particularly young and inexperienced team.
Dara Kervick, the 400m runner from Piltown who started out with Carrick -On-Suir AC and now races for Clonliffe, will also making his debut at this level and so too will Leitrim's hurdler Gerard O'Donnell (Carrick On Shannon).
Another newcomer to this level is Crusaders' long jumper Adam McMullen who booked his seat by producing a 7:80m stadium record at the National Championships in Athlone IT last weekend.
The last time Ireland had an entrant in long jump at Euro Indoors was Irish record holder Ciaran McDonagh back in 2002.
Marathoner Paul Pollock (Annadale) will also be racing but in the 3000m after breaking eight minutes in January.
The team is rounded up to a dozen with the inclusion of a men's 4x400m team which includes Clare's Timmy Crowe (Clonliffe), Waterford's Paul Murphy (Ferrybank) and rising Meath star Harry Purcell, who took three gold medals at Irish Schools last summer.
Two other Irish athletes - Ciara Mageean and Tori Pena - achieved the qualification standard but have pulled out, due to injury in Mageean's case.
Irish team for European Indoors, Prague, March 5-8.
Men - 400m D Kervick (Conliffe), 800m M English (UCD) & D Murray (Clonliffe), 1500m J Travers (Donore) & D Mooney (Letterkenny), 60m Hurdles G O'Donnell (Carrick On Shannon), 3000m P Pollock (Annadale), Long Jump A McMullen (Crusaders), 4x400m English, Kervick, T Crowe (Clonliffe), P Murphy (Ferrybank) & H Purcell (Trim).
Women - 800m. C Everard (UCD).