Louise Shanahan sets a new personal best for the 800m as McElhinney and Healy also shine at same meet

Louise Shanahan sets a new personal best for the 800m as McElhinney and Healy also shine at same meet

Phil Healy of Bandon AC, Cork, crosses the line to win the Women's 400m, with a PB of 51.99, during day two of the Irish Life Health Elite Athlete Indoor Micro Meet at Sport Ireland National Indoor Arena at the Sport Ireland Campus in Dublin. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

ONLY a handful of elite athletes were invited to the Irish Life health micro meet at the NIA in Dublin over the weekend. 

With no spectators allowed on site, the athletes competed in almost complete silence. 

This micro meet replaced the cancelled national indoor championships and left athletes all over the country bursting at the seams to get back to competition.

Just over sixty athletes competed over the two days and 29 posted new PBs, while another two equalled their best marks.

Before this year, Louise Shanahan of Leevale had a best indoor time for 800m of 2:09.44, but smashed that time when she clocked 2:03.52 in Manchester on February 13.

On Sunday, she settled in well off the pace in the early stages of the 800m and then came through the field to take second with a lap to go. 

Try as she might, there was no catching Georgie Hartigan of DSD who won in a new PB of 2:01.48, with Shanahan second in 2:01.67 for another huge PB in the space of a week.

Darragh McElhinney of UCD and Bantry won his first national senior title last year when he sat on John Travers of Donore in the 5,000m and then kicked past for an impressive win. 

Phil Healy of Bandon AC, Cork, crosses the line to win the Women's 400m, with a PB of 51.99, during day two of the Irish Life Health Elite Athlete Indoor Micro Meet at Sport Ireland National Indoor Arena at the Sport Ireland Campus in Dublin. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Phil Healy of Bandon AC, Cork, crosses the line to win the Women's 400m, with a PB of 51.99, during day two of the Irish Life Health Elite Athlete Indoor Micro Meet at Sport Ireland National Indoor Arena at the Sport Ireland Campus in Dublin. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

On Saturday he attempted the same tactic, sitting on Travers throughout the 3,000m, but had no answer when Travers went for home with a couple of laps to go leaving the Corkman to settle for second in 7:50.80 behind Travers 7:50.40. 

McElhinney’s previous best indoors was 8:06.18 last year for a huge new PB. 

He has just returned from six weeks of training in Kenya.

Last year, Phil Healy of Bandon raced over 400m on just a couple of times as she built up her speed over the shorter 100m/200m distances. On Sunday, she had her first race of the year in the 400m, and won easily in 51.99, her first time under 52 seconds. Karen Shinkins is the only other Irish woman to run under 52 indoors with 51.58, while Joanne Cuddihy has a best of 50.73 from 2006.

Phil Healy’s sister Joan was second in the 60m in 7.42, while her Leevale clubmate Conor Morey was third in his 60m in 6.89.

Grainne Moynihan of West Muskerry won the ‘B’ 400m race in 55.2.

David Cussen of Old Abbey equalled his indoor PB of 2.10m when he won the high jump; Shane Howard of Bandon won the long jump with 7.12m and Aoife O’Sullivan of Liscarroll was second in the high jump with 1.70m.

Athletics Ireland have selected a team of 24 athletes for the Spar European indoor championships on the first weekend of March in Toruń, Poland, a huge team that could have been bigger but for the fact that each country can only enter three athletes per event.

Sisters Joan and Phil Healy have been selected in the 60m and 400m respectively; Darragh McElhinney is selected for the 3,000m, and Michelle Finn of Leevale is in the women’s 3,000m.

Spare a thought for Louise Shanahan who ran such a brilliant time on Sunday, but it only ranks her number four over the distance after Siofra Cleirigh Buttner ran a new Irish record for 800m in Arkansas on Sunday night. However, she will be entered and will race in the event that one of the three selected athletes cannot compete.

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