Leevale youngster Ó Lionaird on fire in Cardiff

CIARAN Ó LIONAIRD posted the qualifying standards for both the world youths championships in Marrakech and the European Youth Olympics, which had been his target, in one fell swoop when he won the junior 1,500m race in a sensational 3:50.86 at the Cardiff indoor international at the weekend.

The Irish junior record was set at 3:49.20 by Colin Costelloe a couple of weeks ago in Belfast.

The 16 year old Leevale lad he will be 17 in April has been showing huge potential throughout his career but his performance on Saturday even astounded his coach, Der O'Donovan, when the news filtered through.

"To be perfectly honest I was shocked," he admitted. "I expected him to run close to his best outdoor time which is 3:55 from the Cork City Sports last summer but I did not think for one moment that he would turn in this type of a performance."

Since last season the Inchigeela athlete a student at DLS Macroom had been promising great things. He won the intermediate 1,500m title at the Irish schools championships and went on to win the 1,500m at the Celtic international in Scotland. He also won the schools international at Chelmsford in London and he finished second in the AAA championships in Birmingham when he got involved in a fighting finish in a slow, tactical 1,500m which he would have won if he hadn't got boxed in.

The highlight of the year, however, came at the BUPA Cork City Sports where he stepped out of his age group to beat a strong junior field.

Der O'Donovan has consistently compared him to Mark Carroll as O'Donovan also coached Carroll.

At the other end of the scale there was also something of a sensation when high jumper Adrian O'Dwyer failed to clear 2:05 after taking two attempts to clear 2 metres, it was good enough for third place.

Sprinter Jer O'Donoghue maintained his consistency with 6.84secs in the 60m which gave him third place with Olympian Paul Brizzel sixth in 7.03.

Ailis McSweeney finished second in the 60m in 7.50 secs before dashing off to Glasgow for the Scottish indoor championships.

In the B race Emily Maher won in 7.54 from hurdler Derval O'Rourke who had a new pb of 7.59 with Fiona Friel third in 7.85.

Derval O'Rourke won the 60m hurdles in 8.24 secs., beating her old rival Rachel King in a neck and neck contest. King, running before her home crowd, is coached by Malcolm Arnold who coached Colin Jackson.

Meanwhile David Gillick won the 400m title at the DM Hall Scottish Indoor Athletics Championships in Glasgow's Kelvin Hall yesterday, clocking a European Indoor qualifying mark with his time of 47.28secs.

Gillick headed the qualifiers with 48.61secs despite easing off over the final 100m.

The women's 60m saw Leevale's Ailis McSweeney, go one better than her second place in Cardiff on Saturday as she won in 7.50secs. Portsmouth's Katherine Endicott took 2nd in 7.51 and Irish team runner Anna Boyle (Ballymena) finished 3rd in 7.59.

Ciara Sheehy beat Scottish number one Susan Deacon into 2nd in the 200m. Using the stagger to full advantage Sheehy came from behind, overtook Deacon round the second bend, then held off her fight back to win by the narrowest of margins in 23.87secs.

Deirdre Ryan (UCD) bettered her Irish high jump record of last weekend when she cleared 1.90m at her second attempt to win the title.

National triple jump champion Mary McLoone (Tir Chonail) backed up her personal best win at Nenagh last weekend with a 12.01m Scottish title victory in Glasgow.

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