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McSharry’s win makes her golden girl of the pool

By David Kelly

Sligo's Mona McSharry became the most decorated Irish swimmer ever at the  European junior championships when she lifted the 100m breaststroke title in Netanya, Israel.

McSharry finished this year’s meet having also won 50m breaststroke gold and 200m breastroke silver, while last year she also picked up a silver and bronze. Her success eclipses the feats of Irish starlets Grainne Murphy and Sycerika McMahon at turn of the decade, both of whom went on to represent Ireland at the Olympics in London 2012.

McSharry’s golden glory was backed up by a silver medal winning performance from Carrick teenager Conor Ferguson, who was using the event as a warm-up for his campaigns at the World senior championships in Budapest late this month followed by his primary meet, the World junior championships next month in Indianapolis.

The Bangor club swimmer, who is based at Ellesmere College in Cheshire, won his semi-final and was seeded third in 25.64 for the final, in which he clocked 25.27. World junior record holder Kliment Kolesnikov of Russia took gold in 25.15.

Ferguson said: “I feel fantastic, I’m probably not in the best shape I’ve been this year but to go a time that close to my best is a fantastic feeling.”

McSharry (17) demonstrated why she is seen as a red hot prospect for senior success as she stormed to victory in 1:07.61 with over a second to spare on Dutch girl Tes Schouten.

The Marlins swimmer, who set two new Irish senior and junior records in the 50m and 200m breaststroke events earlier in the meet, said: “I am delighted to finish off a successful meet with a gold medal in my main event.

“There are a few things now that I can work on when I get back to training to help me swim faster at World junior championships.”

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