Irish Women Secure 6th in European Championships
12 December 2016
Portaferry's Ciara Mageean and Newcastle's Kerry O'Flaherty were key members of the Irish Women's team which finished a commendable 6th in yesterday's European Cross Country Championships in Chia, Italy.
The event was rather controversially won by Turkey who fielded two former Kenyan athletes Can and Akda. They left the rest of the field struggling from the start of the 6 k event. The chasing bunch included twice previous winner Fionnualla McCormack who was trying to secure bronze from Karoline Grovdal of Norway and GB's Steph Twell.
The Irish woman made several attempts to break clear but in a sprint finish had to eventually settle for 5th place only 2 secs behind 3rd finisher Grovdal. Fionnuala was however just ahead of first GB finisher Twell who led her team to silver behind Turkey. Can took individual gold.
32 year old McCormack said;
"I tried my best and got great support. I really wanted to be on that rostrum. I will be back next year for my 15th Euro Cross."
Track Olympian Mageean was making her first appearance in the Euros in 6 years. She held her own over the fast course for most of the race. However her legs gave way at the finish and she staggered over the line in 31st place. Team mate Michelle Finn was 33rd while O'Flaherty completed the Irish team on with 54th place to give a total of 123 points.
Irish Trials winner Shona Heslip was 58th and Laura Crowe 60th.
In the Men's 10 k event Annadale's Paul Pollock improved substantially from his 5th placing in the Trials to be once again first Irishman across the line in 36th place. He was followed by fellow Olympian Mick Clohissey (42nd), Trials winner Mark Christie (56th) and Liam Brady (62nd).
Turkey's Aras Kaya took individual gold with GB's Calum Hawkins securing bronze.
Ireland's Jack O'Leary excelled in the U20 race with a superb 6th place.