After a slow start, McElhinney surged into the lead with 700 metres to go, taking O’Donovan with him. Stride for stride, the two battled it out until the last 200m when O’Donovan kicked.
McElhinney — who ran 14:25.38 in his first-ever 5,000m last week in Manchester — tried to go with him but then realised it was in vain as O’Donovan’s 58-second final lap gave him a clear victory in 4:05.09 as McElhinney more or less jogged home in 4:11.26.
O’Donovan, the Irish Schools champion, hadn’t run to form the week before over the same 1,500m distance in Manchester, but was clearly delighted with this victory: “I’m happy with that, things didn’t go to plan last week but I’m in a different frame of mind today. It was neck-and-neck, with Darragh behind you, you can never give up so you have to push all the way to the line.”
A number of records were again set, including an intermediate high jump best of 1.75 by Ciara Kennelly of St Brigid’s in Killarney who also added the 300m title in a time of 41.67.
This was the second time in 10 days that Kennelly has achieved the high jump standard for this summer’s European U18 championships.
Another impressive double came from Aimee Hyde (St Mary’s, Newport) who took the honours over the intermediate 800m and 1,500m.
Her time for the two laps of 2:11.61 was a second faster than Emer O’Shea’s 21-year-old record but Hyde, who also has achieved the European U18 standard, won’t be travelling to Hungary as she’s too young at 15.
Tirna Ni-Chathail of Pobalscoil na Trionoide in Youghal set an intermediate hammer record of 50.34m while the junior javelin record went to Katelyn Reid (Pobail Chorca Dhuibhne) with a throw of 39.91m.
As she did in the South Munsters, Alannah Neff of Carrigaline Community School dominated the senior 1500m steeplechase and came back later in the afternoon to take the same distance on the flat.
Her time for the steeple of 5:07.89 was less than a second outside the record.
“The second race was tough, it’s a long day between the two races but you get that extra bit of energy when you come into the home straight,” said the Leevale athlete who now looks set to add the Irish Schools title at Tullamore a week from Saturday.