JOE Sweeney defied heavy underfoot conditions to retain his Woodies DIY national inter-county cross-country title at Tattersalls in Meath yesterday, WRITES CLIONA FOLEY.
However, Olympic marathoner Ava Hutchinson had a much tougher tussle and just held of Cork's Lizzie Lee, the Dubliner adding the inter-counties crown to the inter-club title she won earlier this year.
Defending champion Sweeney (Dublin) romped home in the senior 10km in 33.27, ahead of Laois' Michael Mulhare (34.06), Clare's Sean Hehir (34.16) and Kilkenny's Brian Maher (34.32).
But Hutchinson and Lee traded the lead during the last lap and the DSD woman won by just four seconds, finishing in 31.06 to Lee's 31.10, followed by Dublin's Sarah McCormack (31.27) and Louth's Fiona Roche (31.34).
Fionnuala Britton was absent, preparing for her upcoming European title defence by racing in France, where she finished third behind two Ethiopians.
But her sister Una took the women's U-23 title for Wicklow in 33:29, ahead of Kilkenny's Laura Behan (33.57).
Siofra Cleirigh-Buttner, still only 17, won the women's junior (U-20) and U-18 titles in 15.54, ahead of Westmeath's Linda Conroy (16.05) and Laois' Mary Mulhare (16.17).
Donegal's Chris Johnston collected the men's U-23 title (35.19), and Armagh's Stephen Kerr took the junior crown in 20.53, ahead of Dublin's Ian Guiden (20.59) and Killian Mooney (21.04).
The drama in the Rallye du Var continued right to the end for Craig Breen as he edged into a brilliant third-place finish.
Breen ended day two in sixth position overall but only trailed Charles Zuccarelli in fifth by 38 seconds.
Three stages made up the final morning's action of the French event and, after stage 10, Breen cut the gap to Zuccarelli to 11.1 seconds.
Long-time leader Robert Kubica crashed out in the next stage, with Breen going on to record his fastest stage time of the event and in doing so overhauling Zuccarelli. By virtue of Kubica's exit he also gained an extra position to leap to fourth.
On the final stage, Breen reeled in Gilles Nantet to claim third and cap an unbelievable drive.
UL Eagles' weekend victories against UCC Demons and Dublin Inter saw them take top spot in the Nivea For Men's SuperLeague.
Eagles' head coach Mark Keenan lauded his team's performance in Limerick. "We shared the ball great all night and kept our composure when it mattered. A lot of guys came up with big plays throughout," he said.
Bord Gais Neptune edged closer to breaking into the top two with a win at home against DCU Saints. In Galway, Moycullen won their third game in four when they easily overcame Killester by 79-58.
In the Nivea Women's SuperLeague, Singleton SuperValu Brunell pulled off a stunning 71-67 win at home against the previously undefeated DCU Mercy.