Ciara Mageean proud to bring medal back to Portaferry after landing European bronze
It was a great night for the Irish team in the European Indoor Championships in Glasgow when their top athletes Ciara Mageean and Mark English rose to the occasion and fulfilled expectations by securing bronze medals.
The 26-year-old Mageean was always in the mix in the latter half of the women's 1500m race, which was dominated by defending champion Laura Muir.
With 600 metres left, Ciara raced into second. She and Euro outdoor silver medallist Sofia Ennaoui of Poland then opened a huge gap on the athletes behind.
Mageean seemed destined for silver but the Polish woman fought back at the finish to take second in 4.09.30 with Ciara only 0.13 seconds back. Muir took victory by over three seconds.
This is Northern Ireland's first ever Euro Indoor medal.
An elated Mageean said: "I am delighted to bring this medal to Portaferry. My aim was to win a medal here and I've done that. Athletics is about peaks and troughs and I will always take the peaks like tonight."
English (25) also enhanced his stellar career with his third European medal over 800 metres.
In an exciting 800 metres decider, the final year UCD medical student dug deep to hang on to bronze in a time of 1.47.39 behind winner Alvaro de Arriba of Spain (1.46.83) and surprise runner up Jamie Webb of GB, who ran 1.47.13.
The Letterkenny man's Euro haul also includes a Euro Outdoor bronze in 2014 in Zurich and an Indoors silver in Prague the following year.
His latest success is particularly welcome after his many recent injuries.
English had a controversial experience in his earlier semi-final race.
After 450 metres he was racing comfortably in fifth place when GB's Gary Learmonth stumbled into him and fell.
He almost brought down English, who then manfully recovered and struggled on to finish fifth some way behind winner Garcia of Spain who recorded 1.48.84.
The incensed Irishman immediately lodged an appeal about the incident which resulted in Learmonth being disqualified for obstruction with English allowed to compete in the final.
Last night, English was determined not to be boxed in and ran most of the race in second place before Arriba who raced away for the gold.
Unperturbed by his semi-final controversy, he held out in the home straight to just take bronze from fast closing Garcia of Spain.
A delighted English said: "It's amazing. I was determined to stay safe as I knew I had the speed at the finish.
"There was a brief moment, though, when I thought I wouldn't hold on. It's really nice to get another medal after four years."
In the Women's 60 metres heats, Lisburn City's Lauren Roy had something of a baptism of fire in her Senior debut. She finished seventh in her race in 7.62 which was some way below her season's PB of 7.39.
Irish team-mate Molly Scott fared a little better with sixth place in 7.43.
Meanwhile, Clonliffe's Dave Flynn of Clonliffe won the 1,100 strong Derry 10 miles which was plagued by strong winds. His winning time was 52.15.
Victory in the Ladies event went to Springwell's Ciara Toner in 61.00. She had two minutes to spare over runner-up Catherine Whoriskey of City of Derry .