Ciara Mageean wins Irish title as she makes return after injury

Ciara Mageean
Ciara Mageean won a World Junior 1500m silver medal in 2010

Ciara Mageean produced a remarkable return to action after two years out because of injury as she won the 1500m title at the Irish Championships.

The Portaferry runner, 22, finished almost three seconds ahead of Fionnuala Britton as she won in 4:15.35.

"It's great to be back racing - never mind coming back and winning at nationals," said a delighted Mageean.

Katie Kirk [800m] and Christine McMahon [400H] took golds with Amy Foster sharing the 100m gold with Phil Healy.

Kirk, McMahon and Foster were all making their final competitive appearances before heading off to Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games but the main Northern Ireland headline maker at the nationals was Mageean, who will not be in Scotland.

With the Commonwealth Games qualification period elapsing six week ago, Sunday's win came too late to secure Mageean a place in Glasgow.

As an 18-year-old, Mageean reached the 2010 Commonwealth Games 1500m final in Delhi a couple of months after winning a stunning World Junior silver medal in Canada.

Christine McMahon
Christine McMahon warmed up for her Commonwealths challenge by winning the 400m hurdles title

However since narrowly missing out on qualification for the London Olympics, Mageean endured two years of injury which saw her missing the entire 2013 summer season

The Santry meeting marked Mageean's return to the track after a two-year period wrecked by her ankle problem.

Going straight into the nationals seemed a gamble by Mageean, who is now coached by Jerry Kiernan, but her boldness was totally vindicated in Sunday's final, which came after Saturday's qualifying heat

"I haven't focused too much on speedy speedy stuff, but it was good yesterday giving myself a tester. I never doubted that I could give it my all," added Mageean.

"I'm going on holidays on Thursday. My plan was just to race the nationals. I'll sit with Jerry my coach and plan something then."

Mageean finished 2.98 seconds ahead of twice European Cross Country champion Britton with Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games steeplechaser Kerry O'Flaherty taking third in 4:18.77.

Sprinter Foster was caught in high drama as she shared 100m gold with Healy as both clocked 11.49 seconds.

"It's hard to run against someone so good but it helps getting great starts," said Foster.

"I didn't think I got the best start. I think I hit a lull in the middle part of the race but it was a great race."

Foster now moves onto the Commonwealth games in Glasgow with her heats coming up on Friday night.

Kirk and McMahon gave themselves a boost ahead of their Commonwealth Games challenges by taking gold medals.

Queen's student Kirk edged out Roseanne Galligan by .13 to win a tactical 800m in 2:09.01 with Ballymena & Antrim's McMahon taking a dominant victory in the 400m hurdles in 57.73.

Another Northerner Erin McIlveen was edged out for third place in the 800m by Leevale's Louise Shanahan.

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Northern Ireland sending in-form athletics team to Glasgow

Commonwealth Games contender Ben Reynolds was a notable absentee from the men's 110m hurdles field while another Glasgow-bound athlete Daniel Mooney finished sixth in a high-quality men's 1500m won by Ciaran O'Lionaird.

Corkman O'Lionaird's victory in 3:43.85 guaranteed his European Championship place as he finished ahead of also Zurich-qualified Paul Robinson [3:44.16], John Travers [3:45.00] and David McCarthy [3:45.64].

The Irish selectors will announce on Monday which of the other two athletes will join O'Lionaird in the event in Switzerland.

Mooney clocked 3:46.46 while another northerner James O'Hare was seventh in 3:48.81.

Letterkenny athlete Mark English took his expected men's 800m victory.

European Championship medal hope English eased to success in 1:49.91 as he finished .34 ahead of Clonliffe's Declan Murray while North Down's Michael Dyer was sixth in 1:51.58.

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