Hession targets Birmingham Grand Prix for the next step

PAUL HESSION (Athenry) got exactly what he wanted in the form of a smart 6.75 second victory in the 60m final at the Woodies DIY Indoor Championships of Ireland at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast yesterday.

And that could be the final indoor race of the season for the Irish record holder who will today discuss possible participation in the Birmingham Grand Prix with his coach, Stewart Hogg.

“It is a bit quicker that last weekend and that’s fine for me,” he said. “I was looking at maybe running a 6.70 sec and I ran 75 so there is a bit more there.

Robert Heffernan will leave for altitude training in South Africa today in the knowledge that he is well placed at this time of year after retaining his 5k walk title in 19:24.64.

“I was very happy with it because I was very tired coming into it and I was thinking if the lads were ever going to beat me then it was going to be here,” he said.

“It was good because I had to concentrate and it brought it back to being competitive with Colin Griffin and Jamie Costin snapping at my heels.”

Heffernan who finished sixth in the world championships in 2007 and eighth in the Beijing Olympics at 20k will have his first race over 50k on March 27 in Dudince, Slovakia.

There was something of a sensation when pre-race favourite, Brian Gregan (Clonliffe Harriers) failed to make the final of the men’s 400m after a lack lustre performance in the heats dumped him into the B final.

Gregan, who won his heat in 49.76 secs, was too slow for the final but he bounced back in the B final with his fastest ever time indoors, 47.57 secs, with the defending champion, Nick Hogan (DSD) winning the A final in 48.59 secs.

“I have been struggling with a bit of a hamstring injury so hopefully that’s the end of that.

James McIlroy highlighted his return from retirement by setting a new stadium record at 1:48.64 in the semi-finals of the men’s 800m.

The Ballymena man, who finished fourth in the final of the 800m at the European championships in Budapest in 1998, returned for what promised to be an epic final with David McCarthy (Le Cheils), a comparative newcomer to the event, but hopes of that head to head came were shattered when the Kildare man almost came a cropper in a clash going into the third last bend.

McIlroy won the title in a modest 1:52.23 with McCarthy, who qualified for the world indoor championships last Tuesday night in Vienna, second in 1:53.68 after his mishap.

McIlroy’s time was just .14 outside the qualifying standard for Doha but he hopes he may still achieve it in either Sheffield next weekend or the Birmingham Grand Prix a week later.


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