Daniel Mooney missed out on a sub-four minute mile despite a strong front-running display in the feature race at Saturday's Belfast Milers Meet.
The Letterkenny AC athlete pulled clear over the final two laps to stop the clock at 4:06.88.
The expected challenge from Dan Tanui never materialised as the Kenyan finished in third behind Conall Kirk.
Commonwealth Games athlete Emma Mitchell held off Leeds athlete Claire Duck to win the women's 3,000m.
Mooney was paced through the halfway stage of the race at the Mary Peters Track in two minutes and two seconds before hitting the front in the closing laps.
Tanui, who was second in this year's Belfast marathon, faded to third place on the final lap as Lagan Valley's Kirk finished strongly to claim second spot in 4:14.65 - almost three seconds ahead of Tanui.
"It's good to be back on the track but it was tough out there," said Mooney, who represented Northern Ireland over 1,500m at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
"My training has been going well but I had to dig in over the last lap. I missed most of last year but I'm feeling stronger than ever now."
Mitchell also had to push into the lead during her 3,000m race.
The Banbridge woman was paced most of the way by English visitor Duck before taking the initiative with two laps to run as she crossed the finish line to win in 9:16.27
Duck, who will concentrate on the steeplechase this season, held on for second with North Down's Jessica Craig taking third.
Mitchell had run a tough 10,000m the previous weekend but instead felt that the windy conditions had been a factor.
"Last week was okay. I'd like to have run faster today but it was very windy and I decided to concentrate on winning," said the QUB athlete.
"Having run the qualifying time for 10,000m twice now, there is no pressure on me ahead of the Europeans in August and I can now go off and get in a solid training block."
Dubliner Eric Keogh was the winner of a combative men's 3,000m in 8:22.68 while the women's 1,500m went to University College Dublin student Ellie Hartnett in a creditable 4:28.82.
Longford starlet Cian McPhillips, 15, upset his older rivals in the men's 800m race in a personal best 1:52.06 while Kildare's Clare Mooney withstood a challenge from Alana Lally of Galway to seal victory in the women's 800m in an impressive 2:06.09 timing.