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Page last updated at 19:29 GMT, Sunday, 7 February 2010

Comeback man James McIlroy wins Irish Indoor 800m title

James McIlroy and Ciara Mageean were among the winners in the Woodie's DIY Irish Indoor Championships at Belfast's Odyssey Arena

Comeback man James McIlroy clinched victory in the 800m at the Woodie's DIY Irish Indoor Championships.

McIlroy stormed to the front with 300m left and won decisively in 1:52.24 ahead of David McCarthy.

The 33-year-old Larne man had showed his intent in Saturday's heats by setting a stadium record of 1:48.63.

Lisburn athlete Kelly McNeice took the women's 1500m in a World Indoor qualifying time while Ciara Mageean won the 800m in a new Irish junior record.

World Youth silver medallist Mageean was expected to improve on Adrienne's Smith's previous Irish junior mark of 2:08.87 and while the Portaferry girl tired after a brisk opening 400m of 61 seconds, she had enough in the tank to clock 2:07.73.

McIlroy announced his retirement 22 months ago, saying that a lack of funding meant that he couldn't afford to continue in the sport.

After Sunday's win, he was non-committal about whether his plans for the season include next month's World Indoors in Doha although this Commonwealth Games in the autumn are believed to be his primary target.

"I've got the love back for the sport," McIlroy told the BBC.

"I ran every day over the last two years and I also ran the New York Marathon and when I was over there, it dawned on me that I still have something left to give in the sport."

McIlroy finished almost a second and a half ahead of McCarthy (1:53.68) who will represent Ireland in Doha while Letterkenny's Mark English took a fine third in 1:53.86.

McNeice moved her athletics career on to a new level by superbly qualifying for the World Indoors.

The City of Lisburn athlete clocked 4:14.63 - .37secs inside the Doha standard - which left her ahead of training partner and Saturday's 3000m winner Deirdre Byrne (4:15.82).

Byrne will represent Ireland over the longer distance in Qatar.

Mageean finished over a second ahead of UCD's Ciara Everard in the women's 800m final while Lagan Valley youngster Katie Kirk placed fifth.

Derval O'Rourke produced encouraging form ahead of her tilt at the World Indoors.

Running in her first indoors races of the season after being bothered by a calf niggle, the 2006 World Indoor Champion clocked 8.31 in the heats and then improved to 8.18 in the final.

Kelly McNeice
Kelly McNeice has qualified for the World Indoor Championships

The Cork woman was delighted by her form and will surely get faster in the coming weeks ahead of the Doha championship.

Paul Hession will not be competing in Doha but he appeared pleased with his routine 60m win in 6.75.

Ballymena & Antrim 20-year-old Dean Adams (6.89) took second behind Hession in an impressive performance.

Adams' club-mate Anna Boyle continued to struggle as she clocked 7.74 to finish fifth in the women's sprint.

Celbridge athlete Claire Brady made a major breakthrough by clocking 7.35 to win the gold and secure a place in Doha.

Brady's time was only .05secs behind Boyle's national record set four years ago and was .14secs ahead of second placer Ailis McSweeney.

Ballymena & Antrim Jo Patterson won the women's 400m title in 56.43 but Brian Gregan didn't lift the men's 400m title despite setting comfortably the fastest two-lap time on Sunday.

A misjudgement in Saturday's heats meant that Gregan was not among the fastest four times even though he had won his heat.

Gregan clocked a personal best of 47.58 in the B final but the national title went to Nick Hogan who produced a time of 48.59 in the A decider.

Kelly Proper completed a double by adding the 200m title (24.14) to her long jump success from Saturday evening.

Proper has improved her Irish record to 6.63m this season and will also be on the plane to the Middle East.

Darragh Graham won the men's 200m title in 21.87 while there was a welcome return to form for Colin Costello who won a tactical 1500m.

Costello, who clocked 3:58.81, was European Junior 1500m champion five years ago but has been plagued by injuries since.

Lagan Valley's Andrew Monaghan took bronze just ahead of East Down youngster James O'Hare.

Donegal athlete Mary McLoone won another triple jump title with a best leap of 12.50m while Kieran Kelly improved his own existing championship record in the shot with a best putt of 18.85m.

Saturday's session included a world leading time in the 3K walk by Slovakian Zuzana Milikova.

Milikova clocked 12.36.41 on the same Odyssey track when Gillian O'Sullivan set a new world record in 2003.

Robert Heffernan won the men's 5K walk ahead of Colin Griffin while Ballymena & Antrim athlete Claire Wilkinson set a new Irish under-23 record of 3.90m in the pole vault.

see also
Loughnane to compete at Odyssey
26 Jan 10 |  Athletics
McIlroy ready to launch comeback
15 Jan 10 |  Athletics
O'Rourke set for Irish Indoors
17 Dec 09 |  Athletics
Ohuruogu beaten in Irish Indoors
08 Feb 09 |  Athletics

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