A fantastic run by Portlaoise athlete Michael Mulhare saw him finish second in a high quality field at the Cork City Sports last week.
Competing over 3000 metres, Mulhare was up against a high quality field which included Olympians Collis Birmingham of Australia, who will compete in the 5000 metres event at the upcoming games, and Juan van Deventer, who represented South Africa in the Beijing games, along with the highly talented Jake Robertson of New Zealand and Gebremariam Tigabu of Ethiopia. Closer to home, the toughest Irish challenge was to be provided by Michael’s older brother Dan.
Michael signalled his intentions early on as he was always to the fore of the group, following pacemaker Billy Ryan. A downpour after just one lap and an opening kilometre of just 2:43 meant the field was still tightly packed and fast times were looking unlikely. A 2:44 second kilometre kept things as they were as the pacemaker left the track.
The Ethiopian, Tigabu, took the pace for a short while but was closely tracked by Collis Birmingham who took the lead with two laps to go and showed his class in opening the race right up. Tigabu gave chase with a gap opening up to the rest of the field. Michael looked strong in 4th but Dan was starting to feel the effects of the increase in pace.
With 300 metres to go, Michael started his finishing kick and moved clear of the Ethiopian and Jonathan Taylor of Great Britain and into second place. While Birmingham was coasting to victory ahead, Michael was putting in a very strong run around the final bend which he held onto to the finish. Birmingham’s winning time was 7:55.31 while Michael crossed the line in 8:02.62, just outside his personal best despite the cautious start. Taylor finished 3rd with Tigabu 4th, both running 8:03. Dan Mulhare finished 8th in 8:10.84.
Speaking after the race Michael said he was “delighted” with his performance. “I thought if I could run about 8:10 it would be good. Mentally, I had finished the season ten days ago after nationals. I wanted to get the race out of the way and take my break.”
When asked would he be tempted to continue his season after such a good performance, Mulhare insisted he would end his season on a high and prepare instead for the cross country season which he will be doing in the unfamiliar environment of Iona College, New York where he has been offered an athletics scholarship as he pursues a Masters degree.
Asked about the upcoming move, Mulhare said “I’m looking forward to the change of scenery and having good training partners. I aim to match the top Iona guys at the NCAA championships and then make the Irish team for the European championships.”
Other Laois athletes in action were Paul Byrne of St Abban’s who was 7th in a 400 metre hurdles race, where the three podium spots were occupied by Olympians, and Mary Mulhare who finished 11th in a high quality women’s 3000 metre race which included Irish Olympian Stephanie Reilly.
David Mulhare finished 12th in the junior mile which was won by national senior 800 metre champion Dean Cronin of Blarney Inniscarra AC.