Bantry AC star smashes 43-year-old Irish record
BY KIERAN McCARTHY
DARRAGH McElhinney’s record-breaking heroics have seen him race to the top of the world and European U18 3000m rankings.
The Bantry AC star ran the fastest indoor U18 3000m in the world this year at last Sunday’s AAI Games in Abbotstown when he finished second in the men’s 3000m.
McElhinney’s time of 8:18.88 also broke John Treacy’s long-standing Irish outdoor youth record that was set in 1974.
Incredibly, the current West Cork Youth Sports Star was running his first competitive 3000m since the summer of 2015 and he knocked a massive 58 seconds off his previous personal best (9.16).
His coach, Steven Macklin, has described McElhinney’s performance as ‘outrageous’, and the Glengarriff teenager (16) is hopeful that there’s a lot more to come.
‘I’d be confident enough of knocking more time off it in the summer when I’ll be faster,’ he said.
‘This was my first competitive 3k race since the summer of 2015 so it took me a bit to get going, the first kilometre felt a bit weird.
‘I raced well but it wasn’t perfect, there are places where I can improve. I was running 8:22 pace for the majority of it and the last 600 metres was fast, but I think there is more in me and that I can go faster.
‘When I crossed the line I wasn’t 100 per cent sure whether I had broken the record or not. I had to wait a few minutes until my time was confirmed and I was delighted when I saw it; that record has been there for a long time so it’s special to beat it.
‘I knew I had a good chance of beating the indoor record, I was confident that I would, and I knew I could get in and around the outdoor record – but that I’d have to run really well to get underneath it.’
Regarded as one of the biggest talents in Irish athletics, McElhinney had been expected to beat the national youth (U18) indoor 3000m record of 8:35, but to finish in 8:18.88 underlines his massive potential.
‘Darragh ran 4.11 for the first 1500m and then 4.07 for the second 1500m, closing with a final 200m of 29 seconds which suggests he can go even faster,’ his coach Steve Macklin explains.
‘No Irish athlete in the history of the sport has ran faster as an U18 athlete.
‘It ranks him as of today number one in Europe and number one in the world over 3000m indoors as an U18.’
Norwegian runner Jakob Ingebrigtsen, who won the European Junior Cross-Country Championships last December, had held the number one time with 8:19.77 – but West Cork’s own McElhinney has shot straight in to top spot.
The West Cork athlete doesn’t expect to run indoors again this season and will wait for the outdoor season but the Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí student has a number of cross-country races on the horizon, starting with the Munster schools’ championships on February 6th, then the All-Irelands on March 11th, and possible a schools’ international event after that.