It is, in many ways, a make-or-break weekend for Ireland at the IAAF World Championships in London, with seven of the 11-strong team taking to the track or roads in the English capital over the next two days.
Less than two weeks out from the World Championships in London, this was always going to be a fact-finding mission for Ciara Mageean, Mark English, Brian Gregan, and Thomas Barr, and though each of them faced a test of differing degrees of difficulty, they all passed with flying colours.
Brian Gregan had been flagged as a potential star ever since his early teens, but the Dubliner became the forgotten man of Irish athletics in recent years after a series of interruptions. However, he roared back to life at the Morton Games in Santry this month, smashing his 400m personal best to win in 45.26. Ahead of his tilt at the World Championships in London, he will compete at the Irish Senior Championships in Santry this weekend
Ireland lie seventh after the middle day of the European Athletics Team Championships in the northern Finnish city of Vaasa, with Brian Gregan scoring the only Irish victory of day two, alongside eleven top-six finishes.
Ciara Neville (Emerald) kept her cool to clinch gold after a poor start in the women’s 60m while Phil Healy (Bandon) secured the European standard for the 400m on a weekend full of back stories and close finishes at the Irish Life Health National Indoor Championships in Abbotstown, Dublin.
Robert Heffernan finished a fighting fifth in the men’s 50km race walk in 3:44:17 in a brave bid to defend his world title at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing, while Ireland’s men’s 4x400m relay team set a national record.
Dara Kervick’s immediate focus may be on this week’s European Indoor Athletics Championship in Prague, but the Pilltown 400m runner’s long-term goal is very much outdoors where he aims to emulate David Gillick by breaking the 45-second barrier.
It was bittersweet for the Irish on the final day of the European championships in Zurich as Paul Robinson and Ciarán Ó Lionáird had two conflicting reasons to rue the 1500m final while the men’s 4x400m relay ran another national record of 3:01.67 to place fifth.