Four athletes — Paul Robinson (St Coca’s), John Travers (Donore Harriers), David McCarthy (West Waterford) and Ó Lionáird (Leevale) — will toe the line in the men’s 1500m final tomorrow at 4.55pm with an A qualifying time (3:39.3) for the European Championships in Zurich in August. However, only the winner is guaranteed a place on the plane. Kilkenny’s Eoin Everard is a shade outside the time but will also figure.
“I’m not too worried,” said Ó Lionáird at the north Dublin stadium yesterday after his final training session. “I’m happy to be back running well after a bad Achilles injury.”
Ó Lionáird ran his third fastest ever time (3:37.72) in Watford on Wednesday but Robinson will start as favourite.
“I think it makes the national championships a lot more meaningful,” said Robinson, with the significant prize of European selection at stake.
In 2003 Gareth Turnbull and James Nolan raced off at the championships for a place at the world championships in Paris — both had B standards. In 2008 David Campbell and Thomas Chamney raced off in the 800m for selection for the Beijing Olympics. It is these types of races that make the national championships and the prospect of four athletes racing off for three places in mouth-watering and worth the €10 admission fee alone.
The championships start today at 2pm with the main duel being between Zoe Brown (Raheny Shamrock) and Tori Pena (Finn Valley) in the women’s pole vault.