English and McBrearty blazing the 800m trail

Letterkenny AC's Mark English is the toast of Donegal athletics this week after his record breaking run in the Junior Men's 800 metres race at the Celtic Indoor Schools International, at Cardiff on Sunday.

Letterkenny AC's Mark English is the toast of Donegal athletics this week after his record breaking run in the Junior Men's 800 metres race at the Celtic Indoor Schools International, at Cardiff on Sunday.

And right on his heels in Cardiff was his fellow Letterkenny AC clubmate, Darren McBrearty, just a fraction of a second behind him in second place.

English, a Leaving Certificate student at St. Eunan's College, won the race in a time of 1.48.63 and in the process set and new Irish Junior record.

"It is a fantastic achievement for Mark and to put his run in context it was just one hundredth of a second outside the qualifying time for the European Indoor Senior Championships. It was simply a brilliant run and even beyond what I had expected from him. I had thought he was capable of doing a time of 1.49, but to do 1.48.73 was something special," said English's coach Teresa McDaid.

The win means that English has now made the qualifying time for next July's European Junior championships and no longer has to worry about making the qualifying times.

And in what was a great day for Letterkenny AC, English's club colleagues Darren McBrearty and Ruairi Finnegan also produced good runs in Cardiff and have also made the qualifying times for their respective championships.

McBrearty was second English in the 800 metres, in a time of 1.48.88 (also beating the 1.49 barrier), while Finnegan came second in the 1500m youth race in a time of 3.54.9.

McBrearty's time was good enough to qualify for next summer's European U-23 championships which are in the Czech Republic next July, with Finnegan likewise making the qualifying time for the European Youth Olympic Festival which are to be held in Turkey, also in July.

"It was a very good meeting for the boys and it is very encouraging to see them pick up where they left off last summer in the outdoor season and they have maintained that good form over the weekend," said Teresa.

"It is also good from the point of view that all three of them have qualified for their respective championships and they can concentrate now on being in peak form for those championship rather than chasing around in the coming months and maybe even finding themselves next May trying to make the qualifying times."

McBrearty is back in action tonight along with Danny Mooney, also from Letterkenny. The pair will run in the 800 metres in the Vienna Indoor Classic in Austria. Finn Valley Shot Putter John Kelly also did well in Cardiff with a throw of 13.78.

Meanwhile, both McBrearty and English were honoured at the annual Donegal Sports Star Awards in the Mount Errigal Hotel on Friday night.

McBrearty picked up the athlete of the year award for 2010 while English received an Olympic Recognition Award for his endeavours in last summer's Youth Olympics.