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Ciara and Kerry set for Euro glory bids

By Brian Hill

Ulster athletes Ciara Mageean and Kerry O’Flaherty produced superb displays at the European Championships in Amsterdam.

Multi NI middle distance record holder Mageean came up with a master display of tactical running to qualify with ease for tomorrow’s 1,500m final.

The Portaferry athlete finished a comfortable third in her heat in 4.13.61, behind defending European champion Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands.

Mageean ran the last 400m in an impressive 61 seconds.

The 24-year-old said: “That was a bumpy race but thankfully I stayed out of trouble. I knew I was comfortable enough so I went with the pace. There is no point in coming if you are not up for it.

“It’s been a long road for me since my last big championships five years ago.”

O’Flaherty was also in buoyant mood as she was one of a trio of Irish 3,000m steeplechasers who reached tomorrow’s final. The Newcastle ace ran her second fastest ever time of 9.45.83.

She joined team mates Sarah Treacy — who ran a PB of 9.42.16 — and Michelle Finn (9.45.93).

O’Flaherty said: “I have only two races under my belt this season and I was a bit rusty. I knew I would come strong in the last two laps. I am delighted with my run particularly as this is all about preparation for Rio where  I want to peak.”

Ballymena’s 400m hurdler  Christine McMahon qualified for the semis, finishing fourth in her heat in 57.73.

The 23-year-old dental graduate said: “I am very happy with that. My stride pattern was fine but I lost a little concentration in the home straight. I will be resting and building up to the semis where I hope to go faster.”

Amy Foster, from Newtownards, ran 11.62 in her 100m semi-final which wasn’t enough to progress to the final. Foster had run 11.57 in her heat.

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