There were a number of quality performances, including two European indoor standards for Adam McMullen (Crusaders) in the long jump with 7.80m and Dara Kervick (Clonliffe Harriers) in the 400m with 46.53.
But it was Neville, just 15, who caught the eye with two second-placed finishes in the 60m and the 60m hurdles — her 7.45 seconds in the 60m semi-final set a new national youth record.
Derval O’Rourke, who was there working for RTÉ, described the lithe sprinter as a “nugget” and it was in the 60m hurdles that Neville secured her first silver medal yesterday afternoon in 8.71 seconds. DCH’s Catherine McManus won the race in 8.45 seconds.
There was little turnaround for the Limerick teenager to settle back into the blocks for the 60m, where the prolific Proper (Ferrybank) was looking to add her 18th national indoor title — she won the long jump on Saturday with 6.22m.
Proper powered to victory in 7.38 seconds as Neville as Neville got up for second in 7.46. She beat a host of top sprinters in the process, including her conqueror in the 60m hurdles, Catherine McManus, who was third in 7.50 with Bandon’s Phil Healy having to settle for fourth in 7.51.
Earlier in the day, there was more drama in the women’s 1500m as DSD’s Claire Tarplee’s legs buckled five metres from the finish line and she hit the blue tartan track hard, leaving Newcastle’s Kerry O’Flaherty to take the title in 4:16.49. An Ríocht’s Laura Crowe came up for second in 4:22.38 as Tarplee walked across the line in 4:23.07. Thankfully, the DSD athlete avoided any serious injury.
There was no surprise in the men’s 800m as UCD’s Mark English held off Clonliffe Harriers’ Declan Murray in 1:51.34 to 1:51.53. Ferrybank’s Niall Tuohy, the defending champion, raced well for third in 1:52.35.
The UCD student was the main billing of the championship and is Ireland’s only genuine medal prospect at the European Indoor Championships in Prague on March 6-8.
“I’m aerobically fitter than I’ve ever been and I’m looking forward to the Europeans,” he said.
“I don’t like to give predictions but I’m going over there (Prague) to do well. I was a little rusty in Birmingham but I’m happy to have come through the weekend and it’s about fine-tuning my preparations for the Europeans now.”
Proper completed a hat-trick of national titles, winning the 60m, 200m, and long jump, bringing her total indoor titles to a record 19. Proper set a new stadium record of 23.27 in the 200m, just off the needed standard of 23.20 for the World Championships in Beijing and brings her to number one in the European Ranking list over the distance.