Phil Healy shines again in Leevale meet as David Gillick rolls back the years

Phil Healy’s epic relay leg for UCC last month may have entered athletics folklore, but her first official attempt at the 400m left no one in doubt of her future potential over the one-lap distance.

On a day of relentless rain at the Leevale T&F Meet at Cork IT, Healy’s time of 54.96 was only bettered by three Irish women last season and she followed that up with a second place finish behind Sharlene Mawdsley over 200m later in the afternoon.

“It was a last-minute decision to run the 400m, as the weather conditions for the 100m weren’t the best,” admitted the Bandon athlete, who still clocked an impressive 24.19 for the 200m.

Mawdsley’s 23.93 was a personal best and just three hundredths of a second off of the ‘A’ qualifying time for this summer’s World Juniors, although inside the ‘B’ standard.

Despite the wet conditions and a small turnout in a few of the events, some impressive sprinting was witnessed, none more so than in the 100m where Healy’s older sister Joan was first out of the blocks to win in a personal best of 11.71.

“It’s a long time since I ran my previous best as I’ve had about five years of injuries,” said the delighted 23-year-old.

“My aim now is to get through the season injury-free. I’ll have a stab at the European standard of 11.50 but if I don’t get it, I won’t be too bothered.”

Cathal Locke from the Dooneen club achieved the 400m hurdles standard for the European Youth Championships with his time of 54.43 with Brendan O’Donnell (Lifford-Strabane) also making the grade for this competition with his hammer throw of 64.82m.

There was also a personal best for Brendan King in the hammer, his 68.83m giving him the ‘B’ standard for the World Juniors next July in Poland. King also finished second in the senior discus with both performances contributing to him gaining the Athlete of the Meet award.

Christopher Sibanda of Clonliffe Harriers had a fine sprint double, taking the 100m in 10.87 and the 200m in 22.08 while Shane Aston from Trim recorded a treble in winning the high hurdles, discus, and javelin.

In one of the most exciting finishes of the day, Niall McCormack from Clonmel came with a late run to pip Andrew Connick (Ferrybank) in the 1500m, 4:07.57 to 4:07.93.

McCormack had earlier lost out for second place to young Youghal athlete Feraghal Curtin in the 3,000m, an event won by reigning Cork County cross-country champion Ben Thistlewood in 8:34.42.

Kerry athlete Shona Heaslip continued her improvement in the 3,000m when, after seeing off the challenge of Sinead O’Connor, she retained her title in a time of 9:41.81, 20 seconds faster than last year.

It was a good day all-round for the Bandon club as, in addition to the Healy sisters, wins were also recorded by Shane Howard in the long jump, Pat McSweeney in the shot, and they finished off the day with victory in the 4 x 100m relay.

Meanwhile, David Gillick continued to roll back the years on Saturday with a season’s best at the Belfast International for a second place finish with Ireland’s walkers finishing 16th at the IAAF World Race Walking Team Championships in Rome. Gillick (DSD) posted an impressive 47.24 behind England’s Theo Campbell in 46.24. Timmy Crowe (Clonliffe Harriers) rounded out the top three with a 47.37 second. Gillick’s 47.24 improved significantly on his 48.05 season opener at the Mary Peters Track.

Ireland’s best walkers competed in much warmer conditions in Rome. Alex Wright (Leevale) was first man home in 55th in 1:24:46, Brendan Boyce (Letterkenny) was 63rd in 1:25:38, Robert Heffernan (Togher), who had been feeling unwell prior to the event, was 68th in 1:26:48 with Cian McManamon 71st in 1:27:26.

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