O’Lionard secures European championships slot

Ciaran O'Lionaird, Leevale AC, celebrates winning the Men's 1500m final. Picture: SPORTSFILE

Ciaran O’Lionard shot to victory at today’s Glo Health national senior track and field championships taking 1500-metre gold and a European championship slot.

O’Lionard, Paul Robinson John Travers and Dave McCarthy all have the standard for next month’s European championships, as only three athletes can enter per country.

Irish selectors decided during the month that the winner of the 1500 metres would guarantee a place at next month’s European championships.

O’Lionard showed tactical awareness to only moving into the top two on the final lap, before shooting past Robinson with 60 metres remaining.

Paul Robinson's silver medal should be enough to book a place at next month’s Europeans in Zurich with John Travers snatching bronze just ahead of David McCarthy.

“I’m delighted with victory” said O’Lionard. “Paul is one of the best guys in Europe, the two of us can go on and medal In Zurich.”

The Irish team will be selected tomorrow morning for Zurich 2014.

Ciara Mageen marked her return to competitive athletics after a two-year absence, the former European junior champion taking 1500 metres gold in 4:15.35 ahead of Fionnuala Britton.

Mark English wrapped up his preparations for the European championships with victory in the men’s 800 metres, displaying sharp speed with 200 metres to go.

“That was my plan, Zurich will be like that," said English, winning in 1:49.09. “I needed to test my turn of pace today.”

“International races turn on a six pence” added English. “It’s great to come here and win, this is my second national title.”

Irish hurdles record holder Tom Barr eased to the 400-metre hurdles title just outside his own national record in 50.04 seconds.

“I’m a little disappointed with the time” Barr admitted afterwards. “I have a few races in my legs, just over 50 seconds and I’m national champion.”

“I imagine round one and the semi-final at the championships will be a similar time” admitted Barr. “Everyone will be tired in the final, I just hope I’m the freshest.”

In the Women's 800 metres, Katie Kirk picked up her first national senior title holding off national record holder Rose Anne Galligan to win out in 2.09.01.

Sarah Lavin stormed to the women’s 100 metres hurdle title in a clean run, crossing the line in 13:48, a second clear of Shannen Dawkins.

Brian Gregan showed a return to form after grabbing the qualifying standard for Zurich on Tuesday evening, a clear winner of the 400 metres in 46.56.

Son of an emigrant Kevin Batt, who declared for Ireland just two months ago, picked up his first Irish title in the 5,000 metres, moving past Mark Christie on the final lap.

“It was just about winning her today” revealed Batt. “The time didn’t matter it was just the win” added the Sydney -born runner, who competed for his native Australia at junior level.

“My Dad was always pushing me to compete for Ireland, so I’m just kind of living out what he wanted. I’ve all my family in Ireland, so it’s feel very normal being here.”

The Women’s 100 metres ended in drama with Phil Healy and Amy Foster unable to be separated finishing in a dead heat of 11:49.


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