Mark English hones in on qualification for European Indoors with two weekend appointments

Alan Foley

Reporter:

Alan Foley

Mark English hones in on qualification for European Indoors with two weekend appointments
Mark English has two bites of the cherry this weekend as he attempts to qualify for next month’s European Athletics Indoor Championships.

Mark English has two bites of the cherry this weekend as he attempts to qualify for next month’s European Athletics Indoor Championships.

The Letterkenny native will be aiming to beat the 1:48.50 qualifying time required for participation in the 800m in Prague, Czech Republic, with the championships running from Friday, March 6 to Sunday, March 8.

The UCD athlete will contest the Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix in Birmingham on Saturday.

Then, on Sunday, the 21-year-old will return for the GloHealth Senior Indoor Championships at Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT) International Arena.

Declan Murray of Clonliffe Harriers, who has already ascertained the European indoor standard, is expected to provide the main challenge to English for the Irish title.

English is the current Athletic Association of Ireland (AAI) athlete of the year after his bronze medal in the 800m at the European Track and Field Championships in Zurich, Switzerland, in August.

Having won the 2011 national indoor 800m title at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast, English will on Sunday aim for a third championship having also led the field home at the 2013 event at Athlone.

Last year the former St Eunan’s College student was forced to withdraw with a respiratory infection.

English is the national senior indoor 800m record holder with a time of 1:46.82, which he clocked last year during the Athletics Ireland Indoor Open Games in Athlone.

Karl Griffin was another man who was rewarded for a fine 2014 at the AAI awards night, with the Mountcharles native named as the winner of the junior athlete of the year.

Griffin, who also competes in the 800m, wears the vest of UCD having learned his trade at Tir Chonaill AC.

Last month, following two weeks warm weather training in Portugal, the 19-year-old won the 800m in a time of 1:51.18 at the Irish National Junior and U-23 Indoor Championships at AIT.

Twelve months ago, Griffin was pipped at the line in a very competitive national indoor final by Niall Tuohy from Ferrybank AC in Waterford. Tuohy won in 1:52.14 with Griffin just 0.68 of second behind him.

Mark Hoy lines out for Finn Valley AC and last summer whilst representing University of Ulster Jordanstown, won the Irish Universities’ 1500m title in Waterford.

This time last year at the national indoors, Hoy finished the 1500m final in fifth.

One man definitely on his way to Prague next month is Danny Mooney.

The Letterkenny AC competitor won the 1500m race at AAI Games in a European Indoor qualifying time of 3:42.69 in Athlone in late January.

The 26-year-old came home first in a top class field that included Denmark’s Andreas Bueno, for a personal best.

“The pacemaker did a really good job and pulled us through 800m on schedule of 1:58, then there was four or five of us in the mix at that stage,” Mooney said after the race.

“With 400m to go the Danish guy went through at a fierce rate and I just got back on him and tried to go as hard as I could.”

Mooney, who was born in Ballymoney, Co Antrim, was part of the Northern Ireland team for last year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

There, Mooney finished in 10th place in his heat in a time of 3:46.79.

He has form at indoor level, having taken gold in the 1,500m final three years ago at the Odyssey with 3:52.83.

Ruairí Finnegan was a silver medallist in that 2012 final and the Letterkenny AC member is also on his way to Athlone this weekend.

Last year he finished just outside the medals in fourth place in the 1500m final.

Letterkenny AC’s Ann Marie McGlynn captained the Irish Women’s team to a bronze medal at the European Cross Country Championships in Samokov, Bulgaria, before Christmas.

The Mucklagh, Co Offaly, native will be taking part in the 1500m this weekend.

At the Irish National Junior and U-23 Indoor Championships last month, Finn Valley AC’s John Kelly took the Junior Men’s Shot Putt title as he threw 17.65 metres.

St Johnston native Kelly, who is a student at Letterkenny Institute of Technology, set a new Donegal record in winning the Irish University indoor shot putt title two weeks ago. The Finn Valley AC member threw 15.83 metres.

Californian pole vaulter Tori Peni, who is a member of Finn Valley AC, will not be taking part in the indoors and is putting her focus into the outdoor season.