'My lungs are still burning, my legs are just absolutely wrecked and that’s the way it should be'

By Stephen Leonard

SEAN Hehir banished the demons of a disappointing marathon at last year’s World Championships by helping Ireland men’s team to a best ever sixth place finish in the European Championships in Berlin on Sunday.

The Rathfarnham WSAF runner clocked 2:18.58 on his way to an impressive 25th place finish, the third best of the Irish contingent with Kevin Seaward 15th overall (2:16.58) and Mick Clohisey 18th (2:18.00) and Sergiu Ciobanu 36th in  2:19.49.

Sergiu Ciobanu Mick Clohisey Sean Hehir and Kevin Seaward 

Hehir, who had crossed the line in 63rd position in London last year with a disappointing time of 2:27.33, was determined to avoid a repeat of that on the European stage and dug deep to play his part in what was one of the best team performances in Irish marathon racing.

“To be honest I’m just bloody relieved,” he told The Echo. “I was so disappointed after the World Championships last year. It’s been such a weight on my shoulders ever since.

“It was incredibly horrible, incredibly low feeling and, coming from a proud sporting family, all the talk coming up to these championships in Berlin, particularly with my father, had been not to let that happen again.

“He told me just before the championship ‘I know you’ve worked your backside off in training for this so I just hope you go out there and nail it’.

“My aim was to get under 2.20 and go as close to 2.16 as I possible could.

“It was not as hot as previous days [in Berlin] but it was still 25 degrees by the time we were finishing. The course was technical and that can take its toll over the second half of a marathon.

“It was a great achievement. We beat the German team, the French team which is ranked in the top four, the Turks, the Lithuanians and other big teams like them.

Punch above our weight

“Ireland is a small country with limited resources, and for us to beat some of these powerhouses is just fantastic. It was just great to see us punch above our weight.

“My body is just incredibly sore, my lungs are still burning, my legs are just absolutely wrecked and that’s the way it should be.

“I’m so proud to wear that Irish vest and I just want to give it everything. It was just great to be part of that Irish team.

“Tom [Barr], winning his medal, was brilliant and Ciara Mageean is just such a great leader. Fourth [in the 1500m Final] can be the hardest place to finish, but she showed amazing dignity and had time for everyone.

“We had great support out there. You could see and hear the Irish all the way around.

“Our association Athletics Ireland were just so supportive. There had been a fire at its offices [in Santry] just before we went in the championships and so they had to have their resources in overdrive having to deal with all that.

"But they gave us brilliant support and my club Rathfarham were behind me all the way,” he said.

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