A rare championships   outing to the European Indoors Track and Field Championships  in Toruń, Poland at the weekend proved a worthwhile experience for the large Irish team.

Highlight in the middle to long distance races was a championship Under 20 record of 1 min 48.06 secs for Cian McPhillips from Longford AC when finishing fourth in the semi-finals of the men’s 800m.

Only two weeks earlier Mc Phillips had run a time of 1:46.13  in the Athletics Ireland Micro-Meet at Abbotstown pushing the vastly experienced Mark English of Finn Valley AC to an Irish record time of 1:46.10. The young track star could have a bright future ahead.

English, an 800m specialist who took silver at the European Indoors of 2015 and bronze medal four years later in Glasgow,  also made the semi-finals, running 1:48.99 in a quality race.

Women’s 800m strong but still progressing

Of the three Irish women in the women’s 800m, only Nadia Power of Dublin City Harriers progressed from the heats. At her first major international championships, she battled hard to finish fourth in her semi-final in 2:04.04.

In the men’s 1500m, both Andrew Coscoran of Star of the Sea AC and his training partner Paul Robinson of St Coca’s AC qualified for the final, where Coscoran ran 3:40.38 to finish sixth and Robinson 3:40.74  for ninth place.

Ciara Mageean of City of Lisburn AC, a bronze medal winner last time, was forced to withdraw from the women’s 1500m.

Sean Tobin of Clonmel AC made the 3000m final as a fastest loser with a personal best time of  7:47.71 for fifth place in his heat. However the final proved a race too far and he finished 11th in 7:58.11.

Phil Healy qualifying for the Championships at home in Ireland. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Other highlights

Other highlights of the championships included a fourth place  in a personal best time of 51.94 secs for Phil Healy of Bandon AC in the women’s 400m; a fighting fourth for Sarah Lavin of Emerald AC in the women’s 60m hurdles and encouraging runs from the younger members of the squad.

The likes of Luke McCann of Dublin City Harriers AC in the 1500m, John Fitzsimons  of Kildare AC in the 800m, Brian Fay of Raheny Shamrock AC in the 3000m and Ciara Neville of Emerald AC in the 60m.

Unfortunately pulling out of the 3000m after a positive Covid test was Darragh McElhinney of UCD AC.

“All in all a promising showing from a strong team sent to the Championships,” said Fast Running’s Robbie Britton. “With a bit of luck and a lot of hard work you can certainly see some star performances in the future.”

“We obviously see a lot of the Irish endurance world through our work here at the website and the improvements in recent years have been clear for all to see. It’s not just fancy shoes, but athletes working together and role models emerging for the youngsters to be inspired by.”