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Last Updated: Saturday, 12 August 2006, 14:24 GMT 15:24 UK
Ireland progress to 4x400m final
Paul McKee
Paul McKee kept Ireland up with the leaders on the first leg
Paul McKee helped Ireland qualify for Sunday's 4x400 metres relay final at the European Championships.

McKee and his team-mates Brian Doyle, David Gillick and David McCarthy were fourth in Saturday's semi-final and claimed a fastest loser's spot.

The Irish clocked 3:04.71 with last leg runner McCarthy doing well to hold off Ukraine for the vital fourth place.

Anna Boyle helped the Irish 4x100m team achieve a new national record of 44.38 but it wasn't enough to make the final.

Derval O'Rourke, Joanne Cuddihy, Ailis McSweeney and final leg runner Boyle finished sixth in their heat - .35secs outside the final fastest loser's spot - with their time cutting .30 off the national mark set last year.

In the men's 4x400m relay, unheralded Doyle ran a fine second leg although he tripped up after handing over to Gillick.

Heat winners Britain (3:02.51) were the fastest qualifiers while Russia (3:03.73) and France, minus Marc Raquel and Leslie Djhone, were third in 3:03.87.

It was a good effort by the Irish as Italy and Greece were among the non-qualifiers for Sunday's decider.

Sligo athlete Mary Cullen finished 12th in the women's 5000m final in 15:25.80 which cut almost 16 seconds off her personal best.

Spain's Marta Dominguez (14:56.18) successfully defender her title in a sprint finish with Britain's Jo Pavey out of the medals in fourth place.

Ireland's other hopeful Marie Davenport failed to finish the final.

Alistair Cragg won last year's European Indoor 3000m title
Alistair Cragg is a gold medal hope for Ireland in Sunday's 5000m

Gold medal hope Alistair Cragg will compete in the 5000m final (1540 BST) on the final afternoon of the championships on Sunday.

Cragg started this season as a strong favourite for the European title but his form in the lead-up to the championships has been below-par.

However, the South Africa-born athlete achieved a comfortable qualification in Thursday's semi-finals and he said afterwards that he would go into the final full of confidence after some excellent performances in training.

Cragg (13:08.97) is the second fastest of the finalists with only Norway's Marcus Bakken (13:06.29) with a quicker lifetime best.

As ever, the Spaniards are likely to prove a major threat with Juan Carlos Higuero, perhaps a real danger, if it's a slow race.

Higuero won a bronze in the 1500m final on Wednesday although his personal best for the 5000m is a modest 13:33.65.

Other Spaniards in the field are Jesus Espana and Pablo Villalobos who have run 13:15.44 and 13:23.73.

Britain's Mo Farah is one of the quickest in the field with a 13:09.40 achieved this year but Cragg, at his best, should be able to handle the Briton.

Belgian Monder Rizki could prove a threat as he has a personal best of 13:15.51 set this year.



SEE ALSO
O'Rourke claims European silver
11 Aug 06 |  Athletics
Boyle out of women's 200 metres
10 Aug 06 |  Athletics
Boyle European 200m bid delayed
10 Aug 06 |  Athletics
Boyle out of women's 100 metres
08 Aug 06 |  Athletics
McKee fails to make 400m s/finals
07 Aug 06 |  Athletics


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