A superb win in their heats for both the men and women’s 4 x 400m relay team brought Ireland’s efforts at the European Team Championships, 1st League, in Sandnes, Norway to an upbeat close on Sunday (August 11)
In a tight finish to the women’s race, Ireland just held off the challenge of Romania and the Slovak Republic to win the A final in a season’s best 3:35.77. Making up the team were Nessa Millett, Nicoale Walsh, Jenna Bromell and Sharlene Mawdsley.
Minutes later the men’s quartet of Chris O’Donnell, Andrew Mellon, Cathal Crosbie and Harry Purcell ended Ireland’s campaign in Sandnes to win their A final in 3:08.77 – another season’s best. It left Ireland third overall in the 4 x 400m rankings behind Turkey and the Netherlands.
Just enough to survive
Overall, Ireland did just enough to survive in the first league for 2021, finishing seventh on the points table with a total of 227 points. Romania, just behind Ireland on 225.50 points, is relegated along with Hungary, Slovakia and Lithuania. Winning promotion to the Super League is Portugal with an impressive total of 302 points. Belarus finished second, and hosts Norway third.
While Ireland had no individual wins in a high class competition held over three days in cold and windy conditions, there were some notable performances. Mark English finished second in the men’s 800m in 1:50.06, with Balazs Vindiscs of Hungary the winner in 1:49.62. “I lost to a strong athlete today. I am not in my best shape, I was a bit rusty,” he said.
A day earlier, Christopher O’Donnell had produced the best Irish performance of the session when he finished second in the 400m in a season’s best 46.70. “I’m really pleased with my race today and running a season’s best in these conditions was great,” said the Sligo athlete after his run.
In the women’s 5000m, Fionnuala McCormack finished a close third in 16:02.78. “Being from Ireland the weather isn’t a problem for me. I took nine points for Ireland and I’m happy for that, although the distance is not my favourite, it’s too short,” said McCormack after her race.
An excellent team effort
A fighting third in the women’s 200m on Saturday was Ciara Neville who clocked a time of 11.83 despite a -1.8 headwind. She has run marginally faster in the heats a dayearlier.
Finishing fourth in the men’s 200m with a time of 21.29 sec was Marcus Lawler, while also fourth was Jayme Rossiter in the men’s steeplechase, and Andrew Coscoran in a 1500m race won by Jacon Ingebrigtsen of Norway in 3:43.43.
Thomas Barr was another Irish athletes just outside the top three, with in 400m hurdles final taking place in particularly windy conditions. Winner in 49.23 was Yasmani Capello, the Cuban who runs in Turkish colours; Barr’s time for fourth was 51.12.
On Saturday, the mens’ 4 x 100m also ran a season’s best clocking 40.31 secs for third in their heat and fifth overall.
Other track performances
Clocking a personal best time of 4:13.93 for second place in the A 1500m at the BMC Meet at Trafford on Saturday (August 10) was Nadia Power of Templeogue AC. The time was a big improvement on the 4:16.15 Power ran last June in Loughborough on her way to bronze in the 800m at the European U23 Championships.
Other Irish in action included Conal Kirk of Annadale Striders, 1:51.82 in his 15th 800m race this season, Iseult O’Donnell of Raheny Shamrock winner of the women’s B 800m in 2:08.91, and Kieran Kelly, also Raheny Shamrock, 3:46.22 in the men’s A 1500m.
In Loughborough on Tuesday (August 6) Jason Smith of Derry Track Club ran 10.51 for 100m – a fastest time in some years for the Paralympian superstar. .
On the roads
Yared Derese of Carrick Aces proved the class of the field in the National Half Marathon Championships on Sunday (August 11) winning the men’s title in 64 mins 58 secs – a superb time on a tricky course from Dublin’s city centre into the Phoenix Park.
Second was national marathon champion Mick Clohisey of Raheny Shamrock in 65:36 while third was Hugh Armstrong of Ballina AC in 66.10. In a quality men’s race, Sergiu Ciobanu of Clonliffe Harriers finished fourth in 67:18 and David Mansfield of Clonmel AC fifth in 67.53.
More low key was the women’s race won by Katherine Wood of Sale Harriers in Manchester in 77:21, with Angela McCann of Clonmel AC second and first W45 in 80:14. McCann is having a good summer; last June, she was the first woman at the Cork Marathon.
Among the notable veteran men finishers was Tommy Hughes of Termoneeny AC 18th overall and first M55 in 74:01.
The championships were held in conjunction with the American Rock ’n’ Roll franchise races. Some 5,495 completed the half marathon.
A day earlier, Eoin Flynn of Rathfarnham WSAF AC won the Rock ’n’ Roll 5km in the Phoenix Park with almost a minute to spare in 15:57.
Damien Landers not only won the Streets of Galway 8km in fine style on Saturday evening (August 10), he helped his club Ennis TTC to its first team victory in the race.
Landers crossed the line in 24 mins 7secs beating Sean Hehir, a fellow Clare man, by six seconds. Kenny Rodgers of St John’s AC was third in 24.17, with prolific racer Alan O’Shea of Bantry AC fourth in 24:46.
Finishing 16th overall and first woman in 26:41 was Anne Marie McGlynn of Letterkenny AC.
Siobhan O’Doherty of Borrisokane AC, wearing No 1 as last year’s winner , was second in 28: 1, with Regina Casey of host club Galway City Harriers third in 28.50. A total of 2,533 completed the race.
And more road action
Winning the Route to Crook 5-Mile from Goleen to Crookhaven in Co Cork on Sunday (August 11) was Eoghan McElhinney of Bantry AC in 28 mins 5 secs. Jonathhn Hughes of Rathfarnham WSAF AC was second in 28.51. Eighth overall and first woman was Una English in 32:23.
On a busy day for the East Cork Harbour Marathon, Half Marathon and 10km in Cork, Thomas Baker, an M50 athlete from Navan AC, won the Marathon in 2 hrs 49 mins 50 mins. Kevin O’Leary of East Cork AC in 73:36 and Liz Nylan of West Waterford Ac won the winners of the half marathon, while in the 10km the winners were Gary Walsh of Bweeng Trail Blazers in 36:05 and Jennifer Goggin Walsh of Carraig na bhFear AC in 42:43.
Colm Rooney of Clonliffe Harriers was the winner of the Streets of Athboy 5km on Friday evening (August 9). His time of 14 mins 45 secs put him well clear of second placed Stephen Conroy of Celbridge AC who finished in 15:26. Finishing third was Ben Brunton of St Brigid’s AC in 15:38. First woman was Michelle Cox of Newbridge AC in 18:12. Karen Costello of Dunleer AC was second in 18.16 and Rose Finnegan of UCD AC third in 18:25.
Winning the GR8km in Mitchelstown on a wet Friday evening (August 9) were Niall Shanahan of An Bru AC in 24:35 and Niamh Moore of Leevale AC in 28:48. Angela McCann of Clonmel AC warmed up for the National Half Marathon by finishing second woman.
Catch-up: Winning the Sunshine Half Marathon in Queensland, Australia (Sunday August 4th) in 64 mins 12 secs was Kevin Batt of Dundrum South Dublin AC. It puts him second on the current Irish rankings behind Kevin Seaward who ran 63:39 in Barcelona last February. Batt was given the victory after defending champion Jack Rayner ran off the course while in the lead and was disqualified.
Batt will make his marathon debut in Dublin later in the year.
In the same race, Lisa Weightman broke her own Australian all-comer’s record when she finished in 68 mins 48 secs. Mayo woman Sinead Diver, who runs for Australia, was second in 69:08 – not far her personal best of 68:55. Both Weightman and Diver are in their forties.
Sierre Zinal records go
Irish mountain running international Sarah McCormack clocked a time of 3 hours 12 mins 45.9 secs for 12th at the Sierre Zinal classic mountain race in Switzerland’s Val d’Anniviers on Sunday (August 11).
McCormack, winner at the Snowdon International Race a fortnight ago, currently heads WMRA’s World Cup rankings with two races to go and her 12thposition in this tough 32km race has consolidated her lead. She also finished 12th in the Sierre Zinal last year in 3 hrs 13 mins 6 secs.
At the head of the race, five times winner Kilian Jornet from Spain smashed Jonathan Wyatt’s long standing course record with a time of 2:25.35. First woman was European champion Maude Mathys of Switzerland in 2:49.21, also smashing Czech star Anna Pichrtová’s record.
Eoin Hughes and Elaine McGuckin ran the fastest parkrun times in Ireland this weekend, whilst Eoin’s father Tommy was third overall in a busy weekend of fast running for the pair who are targeting a world record performance later this year. Full parkrun rankings here.
If you would like to run faster at parkrun, top tips to help runners of all abilities can be found here.
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Lindie Naughton is a journalist and writer based in Dublin who joined the athletics club at her college many many years ago and has never quite escaped. You’ll normally find her jogging around some orienteering course somewhere – or down at the Irishtown track coaching kiddies!