Sometimes in championship running the doubts can set in. Who will finish second? Who will finish third?
Molly Scott certainly had no doubt she was going to win the Irish indoor 60 metres title, because she’d just won it already. At two o’clock on Sunday she took the win by a clear distance, only a technical fault meant the clock never stopped; one of her rivals false-started, but the race wasn’t recalled. Eyeing the national record of 7.21 seconds, Scott was duly raging.
Confusion reigned for several minutes before the eight finalists made their way back towards the warm-up area.
“We’re running again,” Scott said, looking me determinedly in the eye.
So 45 minutes later they did exactly that (it being her third race of the day after the semi-finals earlier on) and this time Scott made sure the clock stopped exactly where she wanted it: her 7.19 eclipsed Rhasidat Adeleke’s mark set earlier this month, and gave the Irish record back to Scott after she’d also lowered it to 7.23 last month.
It was a superb display by the 22-year-old from the St Laurence O’Toole club in Carlow, coached by her mother Deirdre, leaving no doubt that right now Scott is Ireland’s fastest woman.
“Absolutely delighted with that,” Scott said, after winning for the second time. “I was really upset after that first final, the clock not working, and I just put all that anger and aggression into that race. There was no way I wasn’t going to make the most of it, and delighted to do it here with all the support of my family and some neighbours.”
It was also a record performance at the Sport Ireland Arena, plenty others coming away leaving a similar mark, none more impressively than Sarah Healy. Just like Scott, there was no doubt she would win, Healy breaking clear from around halfway through the women's 3,000m.
Her winning time of 8:53.67, magnificently executed, improved her indoor best by 17 seconds, also a championship record by three seconds.
A fortnight after turning 21, the UCD law student is also more focused on the 1,500m this season, the event she’ll likely race at next month’s World Indoor Championships in Belgrade. Michelle Finn of Leevale was second in 9:11.46.
“This time last year I was injured and I’m so happy it’s going well,” said Healy. “I like the 1,500m, want to stay there, but these days to run good 1,500s you need to be really strong and fit, so it’s good preparation.
Healy ran the Olympics last summer aged 20, and has clearly learned from that experience too: “I was pretty hard on myself but it’s a big learning, and the way I approach races now, I look back and realise how much energy I wasted before I got on the line.”
Luke McCann, Healy’s club mate at UCD AC, ran similarly minded in the men’s 1,500m, leaving no doubt he was going to win when taking off from the gun and running a purely solo 3:45.14 – almost 10 seconds ahead of runner-up Louis O’Loughlin of Donore Harriers.
In truth McCann’s front-running tactic was decided in part by the absence of Andrew Coscoran, the Irish outdoor champion recovering from Covid, both runners however qualified for Belgrade.
Phil Healy made sure of national title number 15 – eight won outdoors, now seven indoors – when winning the 400m in a championship record of 51.75 seconds, Sophie Becker of Raheny Shamrock also running a best of 52.64 in second.
“I’m really, really happy with that,” said Healy. “The four races this year have all been 51, bar qualifying yesterday, and that consistency is what I’m thrilled about and I’m looking forward to bringing it to a bigger race.”
Israel Olatunde also came away with what he wanted, at 19 improving his Under-23 record to 6.62 seconds in the men’s 60m, also a World Indoor qualifier for the UCD student, and just .01 of Paul Hession’s senior mark.
Ruby Millet of St Abbans AC also produced a championship record of 6.42 in the long jump, Matthew Callinan Keenan and 17 year-old Conor Callinan sharing the pole vault title with their bests of 4.60m.
Fresh from her Irish 1,000m record earlier this month, Georgie Hartigan of Dundrum South-Dublin took control of the women's 1,500m and held off the late surge of Nadia Power, winning in of 4:23:26.
Cillín Grenne of Galway City Harriers was the class apart in the men’s 400m, and was Mark English in the men’s 800m, the Donegal doctor winning his eighth indoor title in 1:49:39, Louise Shanahan from Leevale winning the women’s title in 2:06.72.
That did require some fending off Claire Mooney, second in 2:07:13, the Naas AC runner making the first bold move to win. Michaela Walsh of Swinford claimed another indoor shot put title with a best of 14.96m.
The highlight of Saturday’s programme saw Darragh McElhinney fend off the young challenge of Nicholas Griggs in the 3,000m, winning for UCD AC in 8:02:82, Griggs also closing fast in second in 8:05.83, a first senior medal for the Mid Ulster AC runner.
In the field events, Eric Favors returned from his record-breaking form in the US to take the shot put title in a new championship best performance, the big Raheny Shamrock throwing 19.48 metres.