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Robinson’s return: thrilling 1,500m a fitting end to national champs

Paul Robinson’s (St Coca’s) thrilling 1,500m win marked a fitting end to the first instalment of the Irish Life Health National Senior & U23 Athletics Championships, which took place in Morton Stadium, Santry, at the weekend.
Robinson took the win from Sean Tobin (Clonmel) in one of the most exciting races and finishes ever seen at these championships. A final dive over the line did it for Robinson, finishing in 3:43.90, with Tobin a hairbreadth behind finishing in 3:43.92.
Tobin made a brave bid for victory from the gun creating a big split in the field. Robinson had to eventually reel him in, which he did with 100m to go and it looked like Tobin’s fate was sealed. The Clonmel man responded with 50m to go and it was shoulder to shoulder to the finish – a lunge from Robinson got the win, and with it, years of frustration through injury were washed away.

Paul Robinson diving for the line.

The second instalment of the Irish Life Health National Senior Championships (incorporating National U23 Championships) takes place in Morton Stadium on August 29-30.

Day two
Day two started with multi-event heroine, Kate O’Connor (St Gerard’s Dundalk), winning the javelin with 49.24m that also gave her the gold medal in the U23 age group. Aoibhinn McMahon (Blackrock) was second with 37.72m and Ciara McHugh Murphy (Claremorris) third with 36.73m.
O’Connor had a sharp turnaround for the high jump where Sommer Lecky (Finn Valley) continued her winning streak with a best of 1.79m – and U23 gold. Sixteen-year-old Aoife O’Sullivan (Liscarroll) was second with a best of 1.76m and O’Connor (St Gerard’s Dundalk) third with a best clearance of 1.73m. 
In the men’s high jump, David Cussen (Old Abbey), impressed with a 2.17m personal best clearance. Kourosh Foroughi (Star of the Sea) made a welcome return to competition to win silver with 2.05m and Ciaran Connolly (Le Cheile) was third, and first U23, with 2.00m. There was good depth in the competition with a number of athletes clearing 1.95m.
It was a fourth javelin title for Stephen Rice (Clonliffe Harriers) in what was a vicious enough crosswind throwing a best of 72.73m. Conor Cusack (Lake District) had a good second with 62.96m, just ahead of Rory Gunning (Clonliffe Harriers) with 62.16m.

Nessa Millet, winner of the 400m hurdles

Nessa Millet (St Abban’s) was a strong winner of the women’s 400m hurdles in 59.52 to retain. her title. Karen Dunne (Bohermeen) went from fourth to second with a strong finish in 61.42 while Niamh Malone won the bronze, and the U23 title, in 61.55.
Matthew Behan’s (Crusaders) celebration said it all in the men’s 400m hurdles. Predominantly a 110m hurdler to date the Crusaders man had a breakthrough run clocking 52.7 with Cathal Locke (Dooneen) second and
Darragh McEhlinney (UCD) was in superb form to win gold on the double, senior and U23, in 13:56.00 as he tracked the front-running tactics of John Travers (Donore Harriers) until the last 200m. Travers opened a gap on the inside and McElhinney pounced powerfully for gold with the Donore Harrier having to settle for second in 13:57.11. It was a fine win for McElhinney in his first year out of the U20 age category. Similarly, Efrem Gidey (Clonliffe Harriers), just out of U20 rounded out the podium with 14:17.89.

Phil Healy, the fastest woman in Ireland

Phil Healy (Bandon) felt she was left in the blocks but her strength came through to win the women’s 100m in 11.71. Sarah Lavin (Emerald) came through strongly also for second in 11.83. Joan Healy (Leevale) ran 11.85 to edge Molly Scott (SLOT) who was an agonising fourth having led for the first half of the race and also finished on 11.85 but was slower in the thousandths of a second.
Stephen Gaffney (UCD) was a powerful winner of the men’s 100m title in 10.63 from Marcus Lawler (SLOT) in 10.79 and Dean Adams (Ballymena & Antrim) in 10.81. 
Sophie Becker (Raheny Shamrock) held on at the finish to win the women’s 400m in 54.06 from Grainne Moynihan (West Muskerry) in 54.22 with Rachel McCann (North Down) third in 55.81.

Chris O’Donnell (North Sligo) won the men’s 400m with a strong last 100m in 47.12. Andrew Mellon (Crusaders) who ran a hard 300m to give himself a chance of victory but had to settle for second in 47.35 with Paul Murphy (Ferrybank) having a fine run in third in 47.64.

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