Athletics: Ciara Mageean left frustrated in Athlone after fifth place finish

Ciara Mageean couldn’t hide her disappointment after a fifth place finish in the women’s 1500m in 4:12.46 on an exciting night of athletics at the Athlone International Grand Prix. Athletics

In a strange race where Mageean expected to win, Romania’s Claudia Bobocea escaped from the pack early on and was never reeled in taking the win in a new personal best of 4:08.19. Australia’s Zoe Buckman finished second in 4:11.18 with Great Britain’s Sara McDonald third in 4:11.62.

“That’s not where I know I am right now and where I can be and where I want to be,” said a disenchanted Mageean afterwards. “That’s sport. I’m disappointed with today. I have to evaluate. My big aim is the European Indoors and I want to have a good position up there and walk away with a good name for myself.

On the naïve tactical runs by the other women, and Mageean herself, she said: “I was disappointed because I thought the other girls would go with the pace. You don’t want to be the first to go with it and then you’re stuck in no man’s land. That’s running. Ideally I would have been on pace for the get go.

In truth it wasn’t that bad a run which her coach Jerry Kiernan explained afterwards. “In my mind it was easily explained,” he said “Last Thursday (in training) was terrific stuff. On Saturday she gets a bad head cold and makes a trip home to Portaferry because her granny is very ill. The last three or four days was not the right thing to be doing coming into a race.

“She was hoping to win. There’s a great crowd and huge atmosphere. She takes them (bad runs) to heart and that’s the way it is.”

Mageean backed up that assessment but remained defiant of a good run in the 1500m at the European Indoors in Belgrade in early March. “I’m probably my own worst critic. I’ve only had two races and I was disappointed with both of them. It’s only February. I want to be fit and ready and I will be.”

There was joy though for Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle) scraped in under the European Indoor qualifying time finishing seventh in 4:14.63.

Bandon’s Phil Healy narrowly missed out on the Irish record in the 60m with two new personal bests. Healy ran 7.34 in her heat and then finished third in the final in 7.31 – one hundredth of a second off the 7.30 Irish record. USA’s Lekeisha Lawson won in 7.20.

Australia’s Ryan Gregson won the blue riband men’s mile in 3:56.49 and the 1500m Olympic finalist had too much class for the rest of the field. John Travers (Donore Harriers) was the best of the Irish in fifth in 4:02.54 with Paul Robinson (St Coca’s) on the road back to fitness a place behind in 4:02.77. Kieran Kelly ran a Raheny Shamrock club record of 4:03.17 for eighth.

Meanwhile at the Irish Life Health Leinster Schools Cross Country Championships in Santry Demesne, Sarah Healy (Holy Child Killiney) showed once more why she could be the next great Irish female distance runner with a facile win in the intermediate girls’ 3,500m. There’s a long road to travel but former London marathon champion Catherina McKiernan was in attendance and was impressed with her potential.

Sophie Murphy (Mount Anville) had a strong run to win the senior girls’ 2,500m with Sean O’Leary (St Aidan’s) top of the pile in the senior boys’ 6,000m.

There was plenty of close finishes with Neasa Reilly (St Vincent’s Dundalk) pipped on the line by Aine Kirwan (Loreto Kilkenny) in the junior girls’ 2,000m and Adam Fitzpatrick holding off his St Kieran’s College schoolmate in the intermediate boys 4,500m.


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