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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 January 2008, 20:44 GMT
Mageean and McIlroy claim titles
By John Haughey
BBC Sport NI

James McIlroy
James McIlroy shows his delight after winning at the Irish Indoors
Sparkling runs by 15-year-old Ciara Mageean and James McIlroy lit up the Odyssey Arena at the Woodie's DIY Irish Indoor Championships on Sunday.

Portaferry girl Mageean set a new Irish junior indoors record and improved her PB by eight seconds when winning the women's 1500m title.

McIlroy waltzed to the 800m title by holding off Kenyan Richard Kiplagat.

Roman Sebrle didn't claim any titles but delighted the large crowd while US high jumper Jamie Nieto leaped 2.26m.

Nieto's mark was a new Irish indoor all-comers record in the event.

Mageean (4:24.07) produced a quite astonishing run to finish almost three seconds ahead of Roseanne Galligan in the 1500m with Newcastle AC's Kerry Harty in third.

The Ards peninsula girl doesn't turn 16 until March and she can look forward with confidence to likely outings in the green vest at this year's Commonwealth Youth Games in Delhi and the World Youth Championships in Poland.

I wasn't sure how it would go today

Ciara Mageean

The Eamon Christie-coached athlete stormed past Galligan with 300m to go and there was simply no catching her as she extended her advantage over the final lap.

"I just went and ran," was the 15-year-old's calm reaction after the race.

"I didn't really know what to expect. I won the AAA's junior U17 3,000m title last summer and have been going well in cross country but I wasn't sure how it would go today."

Sporting all-rounder Ciara's father is former Down hurler Chris Mageean and she is also an underage camogie player for the Mourne County.

McIlroy's win in the 800m was a joy to witness and the Larne man's broad smile after he outkicked Kiplagat to win in 1:49.61 said it all.

The man's talent decrees that he should be mixing it with the world's best middle-distance runners and he certainly ran with a freedom and confidence which rekindles memories of his stunning debut season outdoors in 1998.

The 31-year-old looks to be in the kind of shape to achieve his winter goal of claiming a place in the British team over 1500m at the World Indoor Championships in Valencia.

After that, the plan is to revert to 800m as he aims to qualify for a second Olympic Games, after his 2000 appearance in Sydney.

Fifteen-year-old Ciara Mageean (left)
Ciara Mageean kicks away to win the women's 1500m title

"My target was always to make three Olympics. As it transpires, two is the best that I'll be able to achieve and I'll be having a real good go this year," McIlroy told BBC Sport.

"The winter has gone really well for me and I'm really looking forward to this year's competition."

Looking at other Northern Ireland performers, Amy Foster (7.55) finished ahead of Anna Boyle in the women's 60m final but the North Down youngster was third behind Britain's Anyika Onuora (7.38) and Ailis McSweeney (7.46).

Paul Brizzel endured a difficult weekend, summed up by him pulling up in the 60m B final.

US star Rae Edwards won in the 60m final in 6.70, just ahead of his compatriot Josh Norman (6.71).

Other performances which stood out included Peter Coghlan's fine victory in the 60m hurdles.

The popular Harvard University graduate looks to be getting back into good form and his championship record of 7.80 was only .05secs outside the qualifying time for the World Indoors.

Of the foreign stars, high jumper Nieto gave outstanding value for his appearance fee with his leap of 2.26m.

I have just finished doing some very hard training

Roman Sebrle

Roman Sebrle's willingness to run a 200m B race against only one opponent, Patrick O'Gorman, spoke volumes for the Czech's desire to please meeting organisers.

Many spectators had not arrived in time to see him throwing 15.29m which left him fourth in the shot, behind Kieran Kelly who set a championship record of 18.20m.

"My shot throw was normal but I was a bit disappointed with 8.37 in the 60m hurdles," said Sebrle afterwards.

"But I have just finished doing some very hard training so my legs are maybe a little tired at the moment," added the decathlon world number one who will compete in the World Indoors.

Olympic long jump silver medallist John Moffitt disappointed by only managing 7.21m which left him in fourth place, with Stephen Fleming taking the win in 7.26m.

Saturday's action had included Gareth Turnbull's impressive front-running performance in the men's 3000m.

Turnbull's time of 8:06.10 left him almost four seconds ahead of Liam Reale with Britain's Adam Bowden in third.

Irish records came from Kelly Proper in the women's long jump (6.28m) and Robert Heffernan in the 5K walk.

Eva Massey (15.39m) had to settle for second place in the women's shot behind Britain's Rebecca Peake (15.91) while Zole Brown won the pole vault with 3.80m.

Sebrle to make return to Odyssey
24 Jan 08 |  Athletics

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