Rhasidat Adeleke and Ciara Mageean gave Ireland reasons to be cheerful on the second day of the European Athletics Championships in Munich, making it through to their respective finals in very impressive style.
Mageean started off with a domineering presence in her 1500m semi-final before coming home in second place behind Sofia Ennaoui of Poland, who only took a decisive lead in the final straight.
The Portaferry athlete, off the back of an enthusiastically-won silver medal behind Laura Muir at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, took control of this semi-final quite early on, leading the pack around at a good pace, twice lapping in 64 seconds.
Ennaoui had in contrast remained at the back for a lot of it, but moved up from tenth to go fifth at the bell, before moving up alongside Mageean with 200m to go.
The Irishwoman was not shifted from top spot until the Pole took over in the final fifty metres, showing a kick that may come in useful in the final, both finishing five metres ahead of the chasers.
Ennaoui’s got home in 4:02,73, with Mageaan second in 4:03.03, while Germany's Hanna Klein and Romania’s Claudia Bobocea also progressed.
Speaking on the gold-medal favourite and defending champion Laura Muir, Mageean said: “Muir is obviously a class athlete. She showed me that at the Commonwealths.
“But I went out in that race with the aim of winning gold and battle for it, and I’m going to do that here. You put yourself up there. If you don’t get gold, you get silver. If you don’t get silver, hopefully you get bronze.
“But I believe I’m one of the best athletes in that field and I’m going to go out and prove it. To be on the podium, I want the tricolour around my shoulders this summer too.”
Mageean’s time far outstripped the performances from the first semi-final, where Muir was in charge all the way, winning in 4:06.40.
After being in the top three for the first couple of laps and still being in contention with 500 metres to go, Sarah Healy finished 11th in 4:10.75, eight seconds off her lifetime best set this year.
"It was a poor run from me. I didn’t feel good in the end and wasn’t able to run the way that I wanted to," Healy said.
"The summer has been pretty up and down because I’ve had some of the best races of my career and some of my worst so it’s tough. I’ve been trying to put it together when it matters."
Adeleke was spectacular in her progress through to Wednesday night’s women’s 400m final, coming third in a heat that included Dutch world bronze medallist Femke Bol and defending champion Justyna Swiety-Ersetic of Poland.
Bol took up all the running as expected, but Adeleke kept pace with her, staying second up until being overtaken by Cynthia Bolingo of Belgium in the closing twenty metres.
The Tallaght AC sprinter, who won the NCAA 4x100m relay title with the University of Texas in June, set the Irish 400m record of 50.70 on the US Collegiate circuit the month before.
And she admitted afterwards that she had originally not planned on coming to the Europeans, after a long NCAA season, wrapping up with July’s World Championships in Oregon: "I actually ended my season after the Worlds and I had an off-season for about ten days.
"Then I thought, I might just give the Europeans a shot, and decided to give it a try. We’re here now and going to go in open-minded and give it my best.
"I’m really excited to be in the final. Everything like this I would see as an opportunity.
"I didn’t know until the last 20 [meters] she was there, I was already on auto-pilot so it’s grand. I noticed her a bit late, but I’m into the final so I’m grateful for that."
Brendan Boyce continued his remarkable record of finishing in the top ten of each of his championship appearances by coming home tenth in the men’s 35km walk, staged in the city centre in the early morning.
Boyce had been lying as low at 18th with 15km to go, but as is usually the case with him, he started moving up when others started to wilt or be fouled out.
The Finn Valley AC athlete recorded a time of two hours, 38 minutes and three seconds, seven-and-a-half minutes off the medals.
After fighting off a twinge in the week leading up to his race, Boyce is happy to have got through his date with destiny well: “I’m not happy with the prep I’ve had. I probably would think my fitness is there, I just wasn’t able to use it today as much as I wanted to.
“I did a session last Monday and aggravated my shin, so I haven’t walked since then. It was a bit of an unknown starting today, I didn’t know if I was going to finish the race.
“A lot of mental struggles through it all when I was back around 20th and I was getting a few cautions in the middle of the race. The head was very negative, but once we had turned the corner at around 20k and I realised the last 15k was where I should be good, I was able to turn it around.
“Once I was passing people, the head started switched to positive feelings again.”
Boyce’s training partner Perseus Karlstom, the Swede who won two bronze medals at the World Championships in Eugene last month and who trains in Togher with Rob Heffernan, did not finish.
Chris O’Donnell bowed out of the men’s 400m at the semi-final stage, finishing fifth in 45.73.