Irish women's relay team set new national record




The Ireland women's relay team just missed out on a place in the 4x100 metres relay final at the European Championships in Barcelona this morning.

The Irish quartet of Amy Foster, who ran the first leg, Niamh Whelan, Claire Brady and anchor Ailis McSweeney put in a storming run to set a new national record of 43.93 seconds in fourth place.

Their time beat the previous mark of 44.27, set by Brady, Derval O'Rourke, Whelan and Kelly Proper in Geneva in June.

But it was not enough to secure a fastest loser spot in the final, with Belgium (43.82) and Sweden (43.90) gaining those places from the second semi-final.

Although they can console themselves with a new national record, the Irish girls will be hugely disappointed to miss the final by just three hundredths of a second.

McSweeney, the 100m semi-finalist, ran a superb final leg to eat up the ground on third-placed Spain and finish ahead of both Lithuania and Italy.

The Cork woman has been one of Ireland's best athletes at these Championships, missing out on a place in the 100m final by just one hundredth of a second and playing a pivotal role in the relay national record.

The quality of the Irish display is telling, given that the likes of Italy (44.15), Germany (disqualified) and Britain (44.09) failed to qualify. A Slovenian team including the 50-year-old Merlene Ottey also finished behind Ireland in the first heat.

Meanwhile, the Irish men's 4x400 metres relay team also bowed out of their semi-final, with national record holder David Gillick a notable absentee.

Gillick, after his exertions in last night's 400m final, did not participate in this morning's relay heat, forcing a change on the anchor leg with 200m specialist Steven Colvert drafted in.

The Irish foursome of lead man Gordon Kennedy, Brian Murphy, Brian Gregan and Colvert came home in sixth place - 3:07.21 - and out of contention for qualification.

Tullamore Harrier Kennedy, the national champion, ran an excellent first leg to put the Irish second in the field, but by the time Colvert took the baton, the leading teams were breaking away.

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