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Euro Team Places up for Grabs at the Woodie’s DIY Inter County Cross Country Championships

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from the AAI The Woodie’s DIY Inter County Cross Country Championships of Ireland will take place in Tattersalls, Ratoath, Co Meath this Sunday, 25th of November. These championships will form a critical part of the selection process for the SPAR European Cross Country Championships, with the first two across the line automatically selected for the team in the senior and junior race. In the case of the U23 event the top two U23 athletes in the senior event will be selected.

In the Senior Men’s race reigning champion Joe Sweeney (Dundrum South Dublin AC) is back to defend the title he won 12 months ago. Sweeney warmed up for the race with a quick 3 mile split (13.46) at the recent IUAA road relays in Maynooth, indicating his form is on an upward curve. Chief challenger to Sweeney is likely to come from national marathon champion Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders). Pollock has swept all before him on the roads over the last three months, including an impressive 2:16.30 marathon debut in Dublin. It remains to be seen if Pollock has recovered sufficiently enough from his marathon exertions to mount a serious challenge for the title.

A number of our top athletes are rounding into top form at just the right time including Michael Mulhare (Portlaoise AC), Alan McCormack (Dundrum South Dublin AC), Mark Hanrahan (Leevale AC) and Eddie McGinley (Annadale Striders AC). David McCarthy (West Waterford AC), who has been in terrific form all season, is suffering from a minor knee injury, which rules him out of Sunday’s race.

The Senior Women’s race will be wide open as Fionnuala Britton (Kilcoole AC) will not be lining up as she will race on the same day in Cross de LAcier, Leffrinchoucke in the North of France in order to fine tune her preparations for the European Cross Country Championships. Also Olympic marathon representative Linda Byrne (Dundrum South Dublin AC) will be absent from Sunday’s line up as she recovers from a recent illness.

Fellow Olympian, Ava Hutchinson (Dundrum South Dublin AC) will therefore lead the charge for the women’s title. Hutchinson fine tuned her preparations with a ninth place finish at the IAAF Cross Country International in Burgos, Spain on November 11th. However she will not have it all her own way on Sunday with defending champion Sara Louise Treacy (Moynalvy AC) also coming into fine form. Treacy placed fifth at an IAAF Cross Country meet in Soria, Spain and on the basis of this form will pose a serious threat to Hutchinson. Sarah McCormack (Clonliffe Harriers AC) has been improving with every race this year and is likely to be a strong contender, along with Kerry Harty (Newcastle AC), Siobhan Doherty (Borrisokane A.C) and Lizzie Lee (Leevale AC).
In the Men’s U23 race John Travers (Donore Harriers AC) and Liam Brady (Tullamore Harriers AC) will be two of the strongest contenders. Both athletes have performed excellently over recent weeks and will test their form against the top senior athletes. Other contenders include Patrick Hogan (Ferrybank AC), Christopher Johnston (Letterkenny AC) and Liam Tremble (M.S.B AC). In the U23 Women’s race, Laura Behan (KCK AC) and Una Britton (Kilcoole AC), sister to Fionnuala, are likely to battle it out.

In the Junior Women’s race, Siofra Cleirigh-Buttner (DSD AC) will be favourite. The World Junior 800m semi-finalist will have to contend with club mates Clare McCarthy and Meghan Ryan. Mary Mulhare (Portlaoise AC) placed 8th at the McCain UK Cross Challenge Series in Bristol in October and is likely to be a strong contender for a podium position.
Sean Tobin (Clonmel AC) will be hard to beat in the Junior Men’s race. Tobin placed second in the junior race at the recent cross country international in Burgos, Spain. Other likely contenders include Stephen Kerr (Armagh AC), Ruairi Finnegan (Letterkenny AC), Killian Mooney (DSD AC), Shane Fitzsimons (Mullingar Harriers AC), Ian Guiden (Clonliffe Harriers AC) and Jake O’Regan (St. John’s AC).

Ireland’s finest underage athletes will also battle it out on the day for National titles in the Juvenile even ages from U12 to U18.