New stars at Santry shine
Well established stars and the emergence of some bright young talent made for an interesting mix at the weekend's Irish Life Health National Track and Field Championships in Santry.
Thomas Barr 400m hurdles, Ciara Mageean 800m, Brian Gregan 400m and Mark English 800m all duly won their races and copper-fastened their selection for next month's World Athletics Championships in London.
Gregan, wearing the black of Clonliffe, was the most impressive, swallowing up the ground from 250m out and making 45.74 secs for a lap of the track look easy.
In a closer 400m hurdles than expected, Barr was chased hard by his training partner Paul Byrne of St Abban's. He held on to win his seventh title in 49.79 secs.
Mageean also did it the hard way scorching around the opening lap of the 800m and then hanging on to hold off Naas's Clare Mooney. It showed the kind of grit she will need in the 1500m at the World Championships.
English made his move with a 100m to go in the men's 800m, winning in 1:50.98. A number of young athletes were taking their first senior Irish titles. Among them was 22-year-old Cliodhna Manning of Kilkenny City Harriers.
Although she has only started running the 400m seriously this season, she managed to depose the reigning champion Sinéad Denny of DSD with a time of 53.25 secs. That ranks her ninth on the all-time Irish list. Topping the list is Joanne Cuddihy whose Irish record of 50.73 secs dates back to 2007. Could Manning be her long-awaited successor?
Then there was Emma Mitchell of QUB, who has whittled away at her 5000m and 10,000m times in recent months. At the weekend, she took both the 5000m and 1500m titles in an impressive double.
Of the men, Seán Tobin of Clonmel and Raheny's Kevin Dooney stood out. At last week's Cork City Sports, Tobin smashed the the four minute barrier for the mile just two days before his 23rd birthday.
Five days later, he was taking his first national senior title in the 1500m, despite the close attention of Raheny's Kieran Kelly and former champion Eoin Everard of KCH.
Kevin Dooney, a year older at 24, lined out in the 10,000m and ran a brave race to win his first national title in 29 mins 30 secs, beating his Raheny club mate Mick Clohisey in his last blow-out before the marathon at the World Championships.
Other young stars taking their first titles were 17-year-old Ryan Carthy Walsh of Abbotstown with a personal best of 2.11m in the high jump and shot putter John Kelly of Finn Valley AC aged 21, with a best of 16.46m.