McGonagle looking to the future with youthful Doha team

THE surprise inclusion of a men’s 4 x 400m relay team alongside medal hopefuls, David Gillick and Derval O’Rourke, on the Irish team for the world indoor championships in Doha (March 12, 13, 14) is aimed at the future and, in particular, this year’s European outdoor championships in Barcelona, according to team manager Patsy McGonagle.

David Gillick, twice European indoor 400m champion, and David McCarthy, who competes in the 800m in Doha, were members of the 4 x 400m team that won the bronze medals at the world indoor championships in Budapest along with Rob Daly and Gary Ryan.

This time they are joined by Brian Gregan, who posted his qualifying standard for the 400m when he set a new pb at 46.68 seconds in Vienna.

Nick Hogan (Dundrum South Dublin), Brian Murphy (UCC AC), Billy Ryan (Ferrybank AC) and Tim Crowe (Dooneen A.C.) complete a seven-man squad. “We needed to bring additional athletes because David Gillick, Brian Gregan and David McCarthy will not be available for relay selection if their individual events are still in progress,” McGonagle said.

Tim Crowe is an interesting newcomer to the international scene. The 18-year-old Leaving Cert student played with St Caimin’s in last year’s Dr Harty Cup final but has since given up hurling to concentrate on his athletics. He was runner-up in the national championships last month.

He gets his technical hurdles coaching from Liam O’Hora whose daughter, Lily Anne, won the British U-15 hurdles title this year and the Celtic Games in Cardiff last year, while his 400m coach is John Carew.

David Gillick will travel to Doha as a big medal prospect after winning his first indoor race of the season and equalling his national record, 45.52 secs, in Birmingham last Saturday week. The fact that he will be joined by young Brian Gregan in the 400m underscores the current strength of sprinting in Ireland.

Derval O’Rourke (Leevale AC) set the Irish record at 7.84 seconds when she won the 60m hurdles title in Moscow back in 2006 and her coach, Sean Cahill, is confident she is coming close to that form once again.

After suffering a calf muscle tear in January she had to withdraw from the AVIVA Indoor Grand Prix in Birmingham with a viral infection but she recovered from that to run 8.00 secs in Floro, Norway, on Saturday when a mistake at the third hurdle ruined her chances of dipping under 8.00 sec.

Claire Brady (Celbridge), coached by Gary Ryan who was on the team that won bronze in the 4 x 400m relay in Budapest, will compete in the women’s 60m while Kelly Proper (Ferrybank AC) competes in the long jump. She achieved the qualifying standard when she set a new Irish record at 6.62m at the Vienna Gala in January.

Deirdre Ryan (DSD) achieved the standard for the high jump with a national record of 1.93m in Leverkusen, last season and she secured her selection with a 1.90m jump in the French championships over the weekend.

Deirdre Byrne (Sli Cualann AC) and Hazel Murphy (DSD) will both compete in the 3,000m while Kelly McNeice (City of Lisburn) and Rose-Anne Galligan (Newbridge AC) go in the women’s 1,500m.

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