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All three Irish runners qualify for women’s 3000m steeplechase final in Amsterdam, writes James Sullivan.

There was success for Ireland on the third morning of competition at the European Championships in Amsterdam, as all three representatives in the women’s 3000m steeplechase, Michelle Finn, Sara Treacy and Kerry O’Flaherty qualified for Sunday’s final.

Leevale AC athlete Finn, was first up in heat one, and comfortably grabbed one of the five automatic qualification spots, finishing in fourth place with a clocking of 9:45.93.

“You never feel confident until it’s actually done,” remarked the Cork woman afterwards. “I was definitely putting myself in a position to try get into the top five, and I was just hoping I’d feel good in the last couple of laps. Thankfully I did.”

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Michelle Finn, Sara Treacy and Kerry O’Flaherty

In heat two Sarah Treacy finished in fifth place, automatically qualifying for the final, clocking a new PB of 9:42.16, while Kerry O’Faherty was one place further back in 9:45.53, comfortably advancing as one of the five fastest losers.

“It was great to get the PB here. That was what I wanted to do,” remarked Treacy in the aftermath. “I knew I could run fast. It was just a matter of doing it, so it was nice to do it here and get that automatic qualifying spot.”

The Dunboyne AC athlete remarked that she is now entering new territory regarding championship experience, and racing two steeplechase races within three days.

“The big focus for the next few days will be to maximise recovery and do everything I can to get myself to the line in top shape. It’s a new experience for me. I haven’t done a heat and final in the steeplechase before, so from that point of view it’s a bit of a learning curve. Hopefully I can rise to the occasion.”

Newcastle & District AC athlete O’Flaherty was equally pleased with this morning’s run, and after a slow start to the season believes she is beginning to round into form, with the Rio Olympics on the horizon.

“The final is really a bonus. This weekend is a stepping stone onto Rio. I started my steeplechase season a bit later, in June, because I want to peak for Rio, so I find I’m coming into real shape now which is nice, and I’m delighted to run that time because I have been feeling rusty. I’m really pleased with my hurdling and my water jump today.”

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