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Tuesday 11 December 2018

Here come the girls

In-form: Phil Healy in action at the National Indoor Championships
In-form: Phil Healy in action at the National Indoor Championships

As expected, Phil Healy of Bandon will lead a small Irish team of four women at the World Indoors which starts next Thursday in Birmingham.

Healy ran an efficient race to win the 400m at the National Indoors over the weekend, with her time of 53.10 secs a second off the 52.08 she ran last month in Vienna.

That time - the second fastest Irish time ever - sees her heading to Birmingham ranked 13th in the world.

Also selected are Amy Foster and Ciara Neville for the women's 60m and Ciara Mageean for the 1500m.

The vastly experienced Foster had much to prove after the shock of being left off the Northern Irish team for the Commonwealth Games last month.

Competed

Had she been picked, it would have been a third Commonwealth Games for the 29-year-old, who has competed on national team since 2005.

Her hard training for over a year paid off when she equalled the Irish record of 7.30 seconds last month. She was sharing that record with Anna Boyle, who ran the time in in 2007 and 18-year-old Neville who equalled it last year, setting a new national junior record as she did so.

On Sunday, Foster ran 7.31 seconds in the semi-finals and, based on previous experience, felt that she could go even faster in her second outing of the day.

This she did when she ran 7.27, officially making her the fastest woman in Ireland.

In a race where hundredths of a second count, Bandon's Joan Healy finished a close second in a personal best time of 7.31, while third was Neville, of Emerald AC, in 7.35.

Neville's 7.30 from last year was just on the qualification mark for the World Championships and ensured her selection along with Foster.

Mageean didn't run in Abbotstown last weekend but had booked her place with a 4:09.47 in the USA a fortnight ago.

Still in with a small chance of making the team is long jumper Adam McMullen, who had a busy weekend.

On Saturday, he finished second at the British Indoor Championships behind 2012 Olympic champion Greg Rutherford with 7.75m - just 0.05 behind him.

Best

He flew back to Dublin to defend his Irish title on Sunday and, with his very last jump, soared out to 7.99m - a new personal best and just 0.1m off Ciarán McDonagh's 12-year old Irish record.

That's still quite a way off the World Indoor qualification mark of 8.19.

However, McMullen now finds himself ranked 17th in the world - the second best Irish ranking behind Healy - and with only six athletes having made the qualification mark, he could find himself getting a special invitation.

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