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Cullen on the up heading Down Under

Sligo's Mary Cullen has headed off to Australia for two months of warm-weather training after a decisive win at the Antrim International 5.4km cross-country at the new venue of Greenmount.

Cullen admits that she over-trained for the Europeans, where she slipped back to a disappointing 12th after narrowly missing out on a medal a year earlier. Her season is now firmly back on course and she can look forward to the European Track and Field Championships later in the year.

On a good day for the Irish, Fion-nuala Britton finished a fighting fourth and Deirdre Byrne eighth in the women's race.

With UK Cross Challenge points at stake, the men's 9km race saw fine runs by a number of British athletes behind the strong winner Mike Kigan.

As the Kenyan built up a lead of close to a minute, Andy Vernon fought hard to finish second ahead of Mexican Juan Luis Barrios, with Mike Skinner fifth and Mitch Goose sixth.

Coming seventh was Stephen Scullion of North Belfast Harriers while in 10th place was Michael Mulhare of North Laois, closely followed by Raheny's Mick Clohisey 13th, Dan Mulhare 14th and Joe McAllister of St Malachy's 15th.

Best of the Irish in the men's U20 race, incorporating the Celtic International, was Tullamore's Liam Brady.

John Travers of Donore was a pace or two behind for fifth with MSB's Liam Tremble and Emmett Jennings of DSD finishing eighth and ninth.

Also competing was a Leinster team, with Sam Mealy finishing 15th, Jayme Rossiter 17th, Stephen Lawlor 18th and Conor Rochfort 21st.

Rossiter was part of a large group from Clonliffe Harriers, with St Joseph's Drogheda also out in force.

In the women's U-20 and U-17 combined race, DSD's Siofra Buttner O Cleirigh finished eighth overall and fourth U-17, with Amy O'Donoghue of Limerick Emeralds 13th, Fiona McKenna of DSD 18th and Mary Mulhare of North Laois 19th.

Teams from Leinster and DSD also competed in the day's biggest race.

Looking strong on his way to victory in the men's veteran race was current national champion David Morwood of Annadale, who will defend his title at Lough Key Forest Park on February 21.


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