Britton heads Irish challenge in Slovenia

Updated: November 30, 2011

Fionnuala Britton (Kilcoole AC) has been named in the Irish Team for the 18th SPAR European Cross Country Championships which takes place in Velenje, Slovenia on 11th of December.

A European U23 Cross Country silver medallist in 2006, the 27-year-old athlete will be hoping to build on her 2010 achievements in Slovenia when she came fourth. The Wicklow athlete’s preparation for these championships has gone exceptionally well, she was the first European across the line when finishing 6th in the very competitive VIII Cross de Atapuerca in Burgos, Spain earlier in the month.

At the weekend she finished third behind Tadese and Belete of Ethiopian in the Cross de Lacier, Cross Country race in France and she got the better of Uslu Binnaz of Turkey who denied her the bronze medal last year. Also joining Britton on the women’s team is Claire Gibbons-McCarthy (Leevale AC), Aoife Culhane nee Byrne (DSD AC), Kerry Harty (Newcastle AC) and Eilish Kelly (Raheny AC).

Joe Sweeney (Dundrum South Dublin AC) has been rewarded with a place on the team following his performance at the Woodies DIY Inter County Cross Country National Championships which took place on Sligo racecourse last Sunday. The strongly built DSD runner stormed to victory, crossing the line 46 seconds clear of Andrew Ledwith (Fr. Murphy’s), who has also been named in the team. Sweeney, who finished 21st last year, will be looking to emulate Mark Kenneally’s eight place finish in Dublin in 2009. He will be joined by Paul Pollock (Abbey AC), Mark Hanrahan (Leevale AC) and Gary Thornton (Galway City Harriers).

In the U23 Women’s Team, Sarah Louise Treacy (Moynalvey AC) will lead the charge for the Irish. Treacy, who had a confidence boosting performance at the weekend, winning her first ever National Senior title will be looking to improve on her mid-twenties placing from previous championships (28th and 29th). Una Britton (Kilcoole AC), sister to Fionnuala will also compete in the U23 category.

Michael Mulhare (North Laois AC), who was part of the European U23 championships gold medal winning team last year, has been named on the U23 team. Mulhare was the first U23 athlete across the line at the national championships at the weekend and he also competed well in the recent IAAF race in Spain finishing the best of the Irish in 34th place in the Senior men’s race. The Laois man will be seeking a top 10 placing. Emmet Jennings (DSD), David Flynn (Clonliffe Harriers AC), Liam Tremble (MSB AC) and David Fitzmaurice (Clonliffe AC) are also named in this team.

Siofra Cleirigh Buttner (DSD AC) has been named in the Junior Women’s team. The European Youth Olympic medallist won the national cross country in fine style at the weekend. This will be her first year to compete as a Junior and these championships will serve as an excellent experience building opportunity for the talented athlete. Her club-mate Claire McCarty has also been rewarded with a place on the team after her second place finishing at the national championships. Kate Veale (West Waterford AC), World Youth Walks Champion has also been named in the team. The 17-year-old from St Augustine’s, Dungarvan showed her versatility when finishing third at the championships. They will be joined by Mary Mulhare (North Laois AC) and Mary Ann O’Sullivan (Tinryland AC). Ciara Mageean (City of Lisburn) will not compete due to a foot injury.

Jake Byrne (Mullingar AC) will lead the Men’s Junior Team. Byrne a scholarship student at Iona University in New York romped to an impressive victory at the National championships having competed in the NCAA championships on Monday. He will be joined by Kevin Dooney (Raheny AC) Liam Brady (Tullamore AC), Sean Tobin (Clonmel AC) and European Youth Olympic Gold Medallist Ruairi Finnegan (Letterkenny AC). Shane Quinn (Ferrybank AC) will not compete as he is recovering from a stomach muscle injury sustained while competing in the NCAA’s for Providence.

Anne Keenan Buckley Team Manager said “We have a solid team competing at this year championships with individual chances of quality performances in U23 and Senior level. For many of our juniors this is their first year competing in this age category and they will be looking to gain experience from this competition.”

Senior Women
Fionnuala Britton (Kilcoole AC)
Claire Gibbons-McCarthy (Leevale AC)
Aoife Culhane nee Byrne(DSD AC)
Kerry Harty (Newcastle AC)
Eilish Kelly (Raheny AC)
Senior Men
Joe Sweeney (Dundrum South Dublin AC)
Andrew Ledwith (Fr. Murphy’s)
Paul Pollock (Abbey AC)
Mark Hanrahan (Leevale AC)
Gary Thornton (Galway City Harriers)
U23 Women
Sarah Louise Treacy (Moynalvey AC)
Una Britton (Kilcoole AC)
U23 Men
Michael Mulhare (North Laois AC)
Emmet Jennings (DSD)
David Flynn (Clonliffe Harriers AC)
Liam Tremble (MSB AC)
David Fitzmaurice (Clonliffe AC)
Junior Women
Siofra Cleirigh Buttner (DSD AC)
Claire McCarty (DSD AC)
Kate Veale (West Waterford AC)
Mary Mulhare (North Laois AC)
Mary Ann O’Sullivan (Tinryland AC)
Junior Men
Jake Byrne (Mullingar AC)
Kevin Dooney (Raheny AC)
Liam Brady (Tullamore AC)
Sean Tobin (Clonmel AC)
Ruairi Finnegan (Letterkenny AC)

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