Heffernan just passed the halfway mark when he received his marching orders after three of the five officials all handed the defending world champion a red card, meaning automatic disqualification, in Heffernan’s first national championship since 2011.
The judges penalised Heffernan for lifting, as the Togher man’s technique didn’t demonstrate one foot on the ground at all times, a concern for the Cork man with his world championship defence in a few weeks.
“Alex (Wright) beat me in Cork a few weeks ago. I trained very, very hard the last couple of weeks and Alex is a very strong walker, but I need a test, so I went hard today,” explained Heffernan.
“Maybe at 3:50 a kilometre, things are highlighted so I’ll go home and look at the video,” he added. Heffernan had built a 50m lead on Wright by the halfway mark.
“Maybe at 4.50 a kilometre things will be different,” reflected Heffernan, who plans to defend his world title at that pace in just under three weeks’ time.
“The fact I was here and was able to bang out 3.50 a kilometre, I was looking forward to it, I felt very comfortable. I wanted to drive it home,” a disappointed Heffernan added.
The second day of the GloHealth national championships, while offering edge of the seat athletics, failed to secure world championship qualification for Kelly Proper, Brian Gregan or Sara Treacy.
Proper and Treacy might secure a place in the 200 metres and steeplechase due to their world ranking. Both captured double medals. Proper grabbed the 100m/200m double, exploding down the Santry track for her final attempt on the 200m standard, wining in 23;81 well clear of Cliodhna Manning in 24.40 seconds. But she missed out on the 200m standard by 0.61 seconds.
Proper’s defeat of Amy Foster over 100m had shown steel earlier in the day.
“I was going to race in Belgium, but I looked at my quota place and I think I’ll be okay for Beijing, so I decided to run here,” explained Proper, having brought her national title haul to 17.
It was a similar story for Treacy, who missed out on the steeplechase standard on Saturday afternoon, running a solo victory in 9:58.92. She will almost certainly join Michelle Finn and Kerry O’Flaherty on the plane to Beijing via her ranking.
The Meath woman put some gloss on the weekend with a stunning 1500m victory, charging over the final lap to win out in 4:18.62 ahead of Kerry O’Flaherty.
Ben Reynolds bagged the men’s 110m hurdles title, though he will also rely on his quota ranking to book a place in the Chinese capital, while Brian Gregan’s only hope will be as part of the 4x400 relay team.
Elsewhere, Mark English and Thomas Barr both wrapped up their preparations for Beijing landing 800m and 400m hurdles victories respectively. While Barr powered to victory, English looked slightly laboured, claiming victory over Declan Murray.
“I feel good,” explained English. “I had to hold off Declan for the win, which is a different skill than just kicking on, over the last 50 metres, but I felt I needed it for Beijing.
“I had to practice it, that’s what will happen in the heats when I get out there,” added English, who says he now feels no ill-effect from the sciatica which foiled his European under-23 championships hopes.
English posted 1:50.94 for victory, just over one second clear of Declan Murray, with Ferrybank Niall Touhy taking bronze in 1:51.50.
Thomas Barr produced a cool performance to take the men’s 400m hurdles titles.
Barr powered out over the opening 200, though he looked to have slowed as he came onto the home straight before winning out in 49:70, ahead of training partner Paul Byrne equalling his personal best in 50:72.
The blustery conditions on day one of the championships ruled out Mary Cullen’s last-gasp attempts at wining a Beijing spot. Cullen won the 5,000m in a solo run of 16:07.40, not enough for a Beijing seat.