Monday 20 May 2019

Off-key O Lionaird vows to be ready for London

Ciaran O Lionaird was caught up in a crazy sprint at the end of the Morton Memorial mile run at Santry Stadium last night and just lacked the speed to figure at the finish.

The race ended in controversy with the first two places being reversed after the presentation of the prizes, including the Morton Cup which had been presented to the 'winner', David Torrance of the USA.

But when AAI officials reviewed the photo finish they decided to reverse the places and give the victory to fellow American Will Leer, who crossed the line in 3:56.39, one hundredth of a second ahead of Torrance.

Despite a very slow third lap, no fewer than 10 runners broke the once magical four minutes but hopes that O Lionaird would provide a home winner soon faded, with the Corkman finishing sixth in 3:57.02.

"I'm still some ways from being ready for this sort of kick finish but I will be ready for London, make no doubt about that," he said.

"I was cut off at the bell and had to change direction and tried to get through without being knocked down. It's in these type of races that you get the experience but in London I will be running my heat of the 1500m as if it's a final."

The opening couple of laps promised a fast time with a first lap of 57.19 with O Lionaird in sixth place, seemingly coasting towards the outside of the field and young Paul Robinson in the pack before finishing 10th in 3:58.47.

The men's 3,000m produced a real quality race with two Americans, Elliot Heath and Ben True, fighting out a thrilling last-lap duel. True led at the bell and never lost his composure, winning in a first-class 7:44.40, one of the fastest times ever run in Ireland.

Brian Gregan also lit up the stadium when he won the 400m in 45.61sec, a lifetime best for the Dubliner.

Gregan, who was sixth in the Europeans last month, looked strong all the way and then held his composure and his stride pattern to race away on the home straight to win by a couple of clear strides from London bound Al-Mirjabi Ahmed of Oman.

Young Waterford athlete Thomas Barr, gave himself a timely 20th birthday present as he threw down the gauntlet to Britain's Olympic qualifier Nathan Woodward in a thrilling 400m hurdles, finishing second in 50.45.

Both the 100m sprints were interesting with Kelly Proper from Waterford pushing Irish champion Amy Foster all the way to the line, while the men's race produced a fine time of 10.26 from the impressive winner from Jamaica, Kenroy Anderson.

Irish Independent

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