Earlier this week we brought you news of the Irish team for the forthcoming European cross country Championships in Belgrade so today let us look at the team in greater detail.
We will see how they are preparing for the big event in the Serbian capital. News too of the withdrawal of Joe Sweeney , Mary Cullen and Sarah Collins.
Double European , Champion Fionnuala Britton (Kilcoole AC) will lead the Irish Team at the 20th SPAR European Cross Country Championships which takes place on December 8th. The Wicklow athlete has prepared for her title defence with comprehensive victories at the Gerry Farnan Cross Country in October and the Woodie’s DIY National Inter County Championships in November. She continued her preparations competing in the competitive Cross De L’Acier in France last weekend where she finished in seventh place, the second European home behind Sophie Duarte of France.
Chris Jones, National Endurance Coach commented: Fionnuala’s preparations have gone to plan on the lead up Belgrade. Every championship is different and she will be looking to give herself the best opportunity to perform. We also see this as an important stepping stone on the path towards the European Track and Field championships next year in Zurich.”
Jones added “We have a strong team heading to Belgrade and we have provided them with ideal opportunities to prepare properly and we see this as a platform that we can really build on over the next few years. We are expecting consistent performances across all the teams. Like all championships there are opportunities in certain categories for the taking and where we have the potential to contest for podium positions.”
High Performance Director Kevin Ankrom commented: “Chris has brought real relevant experience and ideas to the Athletics Ireland High Performance team. We’re looking forward to Belgrade and I know the preparation of our athletes has been first class”.
Britton will be joined on the senior women’s team by Sarah McCormack (Clonliffe Harriers AC), Ann Marie McGlynn (Lifford AC), Ciara Durkin (Skerries AC) and Sara Treacy (Moynalvey AC). Mary Cullen (Sligo AC) was named on the team but has been replaced by first reserve Maria McCambridge (DSD AC). Cullen’s fitness was being assessed throughout the qualification period however it was confirmed yesterday that she is not 100% fit to compete and unfortunately had to withdraw.
Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders AC) will lead the senior men’s team after an emphatic victory at the national championships in Santry Park. In August Pollock finished in 21st place and second European athlete in the marathon at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow. Since then his sole focus has been on the upcoming European cross country championships.
He will be joined on the team by the Mulhare brothers Michael and Dan both of Portlaoise athletic club who finished second and third respectively at the Inter County championships. David McCarthy (West Waterford AC) and Stephen Scullion (Clonliffe Harriers AC) are also named in the senior men’s team. Joe Sweeney (Dundrum South Dublin AC) who was named on the team has been replaced by first reserve Mick Clohisey (Raheny Shamrock AC). Sweeney had hoped to recover quicker from his marathon exertions however he has had to make the difficult decision to withdraw from the team in order to fully recover.
U23 1500m national record holder Paul Robinson returns from a stint of training in Australia and hopes are high that the St Coca’s AC athlete can make a big impression in his last year as an U23 athlete. Ryan McDermott (Annadale Striders AC) will join him in the U23 race after winning the trial race in Santry. McDermott is joined by John Travers (Donore Harriers AC) who also impressed at the trial.
US collegiate athletes Shane Quinn (Ferrybank AC), Jake Byrne (Mullingar Harriers AC) and Kevin Dooney (Raheny Shamrocks AC) all return from the States to form a strong men’s U23 team. Quinn in particular has impressed recently with a 42nd place finish at the prestigious NCAA championships in Terre Haute, Indiana.
Athletics Ireland has made a decision not to send a team or representative in the women’s U23 category. National Endurance Coach Chris Jones commented “There are many quality endurance athletes competing at U23 level however we have identified that we need to bridge a gap to allow these athletes to be able to produce quality performance on the European stage and future plans will focus on this”
Siofra Cleirigh Buttner (Dundrum South Dublin AC) will spear head the junior women’s team. Sarah Collins (Finn Valley AC) has regrettably had to withdraw due to a medical condition. Collins will now be replaced on the team by first reserve Isabelle Odlum of Dundrum South Dublin AC. Cleirigh Buttner and Odlum will be joined by teammates; Meghan Ryan, Sarah Fitzpatrick and Clare McCarthy. Amy O’Donoughue (Emerald AC) makes up the remainder of the junior women’s team.
Sean Tobin (Clonmel AC) leads the charge in the junior men’s race after a storming victory at the national championships in Santry Park. Tobin missed last year’s European championships due to illness will be eager to impress in his last year as a junior. Aaron Hanlon (Clonliffe Harriers AC) takes his place on the team after a second place finish in the Lotto Cross Cup in Antwerp on November 3rd. Ruairi Finnegan (Letterkenny AC), Kevin Mulcaire (Ennis Track), Andrew Coscoran (Star of the Sea AC) and Con Doherty (Westport AC) are also named in the junior men’s team.