European Indoor Championships: Irish duo Andrew Coscoran and Paul Robinson reach 1500m final in Torun

By John HaugheyBBC Sport NI
Andrew Coscoran moved to fifth on the Irish all-time list for 1500m indoors with a 3:37.20 clocking last month
Andrew Coscoran wonders if he has done enough to qualify after his 1500m heat

Ireland's Andrew Coscoran and Paul Robinson produced brave runs to qualify for Friday's men's 1500m final at the European Indoor Championships in Torun.

Both qualified via the fastest loser route with Coscoran's 3:39.00 leaving him third in his heat - just outside the automatic top two spots.

Robinson's third place in the concluding heat four in 3:40.07 also proved enough to progress in Poland.

Their young team-mate Luke McCann missed out as he was fifth in his heat.

After leading in the early part of his race and remaining in contention, McCann appeared to be clipped from behind by Czech athlete Jan Fris as they battled for third place on the final bend which caused the Irishman to lose momentum.

McCann, 22, crossed the line in 3:41.25 as Britain's Neil Gourley (3:39.84) and Norway's event favourite Jakob Ingebrigtsen (3:39.89) clinched the qualifying spots.

Twenty-four-year-old Coscoran, who moved to fifth on the Irish all-time indoor list for 1500m with a 3:37.20 clocking last month, produced a strong closing 400m as he finished behind Spain's Ignacio Fontes (3:38.68) and another Briton Piers Copeland (3:38.88).

Coscoran's time left him as the fastest loser at that stage and he remained in that position after the two remaining heats.

Paul Robinson in action in his 1500m heat in the Polish city of Torun
Paul Robinson has had a terrible time with injuries since finishing fourth in the 1500m at the 2014 European outdoor championships

Robinson, who finished fourth in the 1500m final at the European outdoor championships as a 23-year-old in 2014 but then suffered a series of injuries over the next five years, knew exactly what he had to do heading into the final heat and ran a mature race to take third behind Poland's defending champion Marcin Lewandowski (3:39.78) and Czech athlete Filip Sasinek (3:40.04).

The Irishman, who clocked his outdoor personal best of 3:35.22 as far back as 2013, just failed to catch Sasinek but his time proved enough to progress and his post-race scream of joy showed what it meant after what he has described as a "chain reaction of absolute hell" since 2014.

With Ingebrigtsen, who set a European indoor record of 3:31.80 last month, and Lewandowski expected to fight out the gold and the British pair also looking strong in the heats, the Irishmen will be outsiders but Robinson, in particular, has the racing brain to potentially put himself in position to perhaps challenge for the bronze medal.

Thursday opening action in Torun saw Ireland's Michelle Finn bow out of the women's 3,000m as she finished 9th in her heat in 9:05.44 - just over three seconds outside her personal best - with only the top four securing automatic qualification for Friday's final.

Friday will be a busy day of action for Irish athletes with medal hope Phil Healy joined by team-mates Sophie Becker and Sharlene Mawdsley in the morning women's 400m heats, ahead of potential evening semi-finals, with Siofra Cleirigh Buttner, Nadia Power and Georgie Hartigan involved in the women's 800m first round shortly after noon.

The evening session will see three-times European medallist Mark English joined by exciting Longford teenager Cian McPhillips and John Fitzsimons in the men's 800m heats before Robinson and Coscoran are involved in their 1500m final.

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