herald

Monday 5 December 2016

Novices take to the country

Ireland’s Fionnuala McCormack. Pic: Sportsfile
Ireland’s Fionnuala McCormack. Pic: Sportsfile

On a glorious autumn afternoon at the Magazine Hill in the Phoenix Park, it was hard to believe that the cross-country season of squelchy mud, spitting rain and long spikes is with us again.

Sunday was the day set aside for county novice championships all over the country. After that will come the county intermediate and senior championships at county and provincial level and then the National Cross- Country Champions at the National Sports Campus Abbotstown on November 27.

That's followed by the European Cross-Country Championships on Sunday December 11 which has become the key event of the season. This year, it takes place in Chia, on the Italian island of Sardinia.

Last year, in France, Fionnuala McCormack in fourth place led the Irish women's team to the bronze medals at the European Championships.

Included on the team were Rio Olympians Lizzie Lee, Michelle Finn and Kerry O'Flaherty, along with Dublin champion Caroline Crowley and the reliable Ciara Durkin.

Best of the men was Irish champion Mick Clohisey in 37th place, followed by Paul Pollock, John Coghlan and Sergiu Ciobanu. All these should be in action over the next few months, with Pollock a definite for the interclubs

Anyone planning to make the Irish team will have a chance to test out the new national cross- country course at Abbotstown on Sunday October 16 when the Autumn Open Cross Cross-Country on Sunday October 16.

The course was first used in 2011 for the All-Ireland Schools and Universities Championships; it's flat but rough in parts.

Back at novice level, Clare Sullivan of Rathfarnham WSAF and Clonliffe's Cathal Doyle were the winners of the Dublin Novice Cross-Country titles.

Sullivan was part of a breakaway group that pushed to the front from the opening lap of the women's 4km. Leading it out was schools steeplechase champion Alison Armstrong of Celtic DCH.

Storming

Sullivan produced a storming finish for victory over Helen Brouder and Noreen Brouder of Sportsworld, with Armstrong fading to finish fourth. Sportsworld finished best of the teams ahead of Raheny Shamrock and Clonliffe.

In the men's 6km, Rossa Hurley of host club Donore, was first to show, with Cathal Doyle of Clonliffe, Rathfarnham's Robert Murphy  and Vinnie McGuinness of Crusaders part of the chasing group.

In a tough race, it was Doyle who prevailed with Murphy second and Hurley third ahead of McGuinness. Rathfarnham took the team title with Raheny Shamrock second and Crusaders third.

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