Mageean wins first major title at the age of 32

Ireland's Ciara Mageean clinched her first major title at the age of 32 as she won the 1500m title at the European Championships in Rome.

Mageean, who won bronze and silver medals at previous European Championships, held her nerve in a tactical battle to find a tiny gap between Great Britain duo Georgia Bell and Jemma Reekie with 90 metres left.

The county Down woman's triumph continued Irish success at the championships after Friday night's 4x400m mixed relay victory which was the country's first European gold since 1998.

Mageean, who narrowly missed out on a 1500m medal when finishing fourth at last year's World Championships, crossed the line in four minutes 4.66 seconds which left her 0.67 seconds clear of Great Britain's Bell.

France's Agathe Guillemot was a further 0.36 seconds back in third as 800m specialist Reekie faded to fifth spot with Mageean's Irish team-mate Sarah Healy in seventh.

The British duo attempted to control the race by going to the front immediately and then slowing the pace and for much of the race Mageean founded herself boxed behind the leading pair.

However, Mageean managed to find a route between the Britons as they entered the home straight and once she moved ahead, there was only going to be one winner.

'Words can't even come close'

"Words can't even come close," Mageean told RTE Sport after being asked what victory meant to her.

"Everybody back home knows how long I have been doing this, how hard I have been trying. I've had so many times when I've come off races and not felt the way I am today."

Despite her long career, Mageean admitted that she had gone out to the Stadio Olimpico "super nervous but with a plan and with a mission to hear Amhran na bhFiann [the Irish national anthem]".

"When I was getting a bit boxed in there, I thought 'my god.....I have all the legs left but nowhere to go'. I didn't grow up playing camogie to get boxed in though."

Mageean has become one of Ireland's most popular sports people in recent years and her victory is certain to bring much joy to the Emerald Isle - north and south.

After winning bronze at the championships in Amsterdam in 2016, Mageean had to wait six years for her second outdoor European medal as she took second place behind Great Britain's Laura Muir in Munich. That medal came a couple of weeks after she had earned silver behind the Scot at the European Championships in Birmingham.

Muir's decision to opt out of the Rome championships immediately marked out Mageean as the favourite for the title and the Northern Irishwoman duly delivered a success that will give her huge confidence for her upcoming Olympic 1500m challenge in Paris.

There will be high hopes of further in Monday night's 400m final where mixed relay heroes Rhasidat Adeleke and Sharlene Mawdsley will be in action.

Adeleke, whose personal best of 49.20 seconds marks her out as one of the gold medal favourites and a genuine Olympic contender, cruised into Monday evening's final by winning her heat in 50.54 as she was 0.19 seconds ahead of Great Britain's Laviai Nielson.

Mawdsley reached the decider by clocking 50.99 - her second best ever time - as she took second spot 0.42 seconds behind Dutch athlete Lieke Klaver.

The third Irish hopeful Sophie Becker missed out on clinching a final spot as she was fourth in her semi-final in 51.54 seconds as Poland's silver medallist from two years ago Natalia Kaczmarek took victory in 50.70.

Sligo man Chris O'Donnell, the fourth member of the victorious mixed relay squad, finished fourth in his 400m semi-final in 45.72 seconds which wouldn't have been enough to reach the final but was then disqualified for a lane infringement.

Barr wins opening 400m hurdles heat

In the morning session, another member of Ireland's gold medal quartet from Friday night, Thomas Barr also continued his impressive championships by reaching the 400m hurdles semi-finals.

Barr, who won bronze in the hurdles event at the 2018 championships, was the fastest of the competitors in the first round as he won his heat in a season's best of 49.31 seconds.

The Waterford man, 31, will now join the seeded athletes in Monday's semi-finals.

Mark Smyth and Nicola Tuthill progressed from their opening qualifiers in Sunday morning's session.

Raheny Shamrocks sprinter Smyth clocked a 200ms season's best of 20.93 seconds in the morning heats to progress to the semi-finals where he improved that time of 20.86.

Tuthill, 20, was seventh of the 12 qualifiers for Monday's hammer final after producing a best throw of 69.85m with her final effort.

North Belfast athlete Emily Haggard-Kearney finished 64th in the women's half marathon in 1:17.04 - 30 places behind Shona Heaslip who clocked 1:12.19, while Hiko Tonosa took 43rd in the men's event in 1:05.42.