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Sergiu Ciobanu prepared for the All Ireland Cross-Country Championships with a prep run in Romania

Sergiu Ciobanu prepared for the All Ireland Cross-Country Championships with a prep run in Romania

Sergiu Ciobanu prepared for the All Ireland Cross-Country Championships with a prep run in Romania

With the All Ireland Cross-Country Championships just ten days away, local athletes were preparing for the big day by racing not just in Ireland, but in Scotland and Romania as well last weekend.

Making the trip to Romania were Kerry O'Flaherty of Newcastle AC and Sergiu Ciobanu of Clonliffe Harriers, who competed in the Crosul 15 Noiembrie 5km in the beautiful Transylvanian town of Brasov.

O'Flaherty finished eighth in the women's race in a time of 16 mins 32 secs. Race winner, in 15:12, was Romanian steeplechaser Ancuta Bobocel - a woman not unknown to O'Flaherty - who competed in the steeplechase at the Rio Olympics.

In the men's race, Ciobanu, who a fortnight earlier had helped Clonliffe to team victory at the Dublin Marathon, finished 17th in the men's race in 14 mins 44 secs.

Form athlete Jessica Craig of North Down finished 11th in 14:05 at the Scottish Short Course Cross-Country Championships over 4000m in Lanark Equestrian Centre, with her North Down clubmate Rachel Gibson just seven seconds behind for 14th.

Liam Brady of Tullamore Harriers was a comfortable winner of the men's 10,000m race at the Leinster Cross Country Championships in Adamstown, Co Wexford. Brady finished fourth in the National Championships two years ago, making the Irish team for the European Championships.

Muddy

On a muddy, strength-sapping course in Adamstown, Brady broke away early and built up a lead of almost a minute to win in 32 mins 57 secs. Marathon man Sean Hehir of Rathfarnham WSAF, who is concentrating on cross-country this winter, was second in 33:36 and Liffey Valley's Peter Arthur third in 34.26.

Tullamore Harriers, led by Brady, and with their four counting athletes all in the top 20, took the team title with Liffey Valley and Celbridge AC second and third. Dublin were the county teams.

Winning the women's race in 19 mins 10 secs was 21-year-old Lauren Dermody of Castlecomer AC, who finished third in the National Novice Cross-Country last December and was the national junior steeplechase champion two years ago.

Tullamore's Nadine Donegan, another promising 21-year-old who won the Leinster novice title a few weeks ago, was second. Sally Forristal of St Josephs's AC, a strong performer over the past four years, finished third.

In a closely fought team race, Dublin clubs dominated. Sportsworld AC, led by Helen Brouder in fifth place, won the title with 40 points. Making up the team were Ruth Kelly 10th, Ciara Brady 11th and Maura Ginty 14th.

Three points behind were Liffey Valley, with Eimear Nic an Bhaird their first counter in seventh place, followed by Sile Carroll one place behind in eighth. Aileen Gittens 12th and Kathryn Preston 16th. Third were St Senan's AC. Kilkenny was best county.

At the Northern Ireland and Ulster Novice Cross-country in Scotstown, Co Monaghan, stars of the future, Eoin Hughes and Niamh Kelly, both from Letterkenny AC, were the winners. Hughes is 19 and Kelly 21.


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