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McDaid: Stars back for Euros

ATHLETICS: Ireland team manager Teresa McDaid believes that several ill athletes missing from Sunday's national inter-counties will be fully up to speed in two weeks' time for the European Championships.

The team for the Europeans on December 9 includes several big names who missed the nationals - which act as a Euros trial, with the first two in each race automatically chosen - because of illness.

"Linda Byrne reportedly did a very good session at the weekend after her recent illness and she is a proven performer in this competition," said McDaid, who has taken over the team manager's role after Anne Keenan-Buckley's surprise resignation.

"Athletes like Sarah Louise Treacy and Sean Tobin were hit by bugs last weekend but they have shown excellent form at international level recently."

Ireland's reigning European champion Fionnuala Britton also missed the nationals in order to run in a high-quality preparation race in France, where she finished third.

Men's hopeful David McCarthy has ruled himself out (he has a scan on a knee niggle tomorrow) while Kevin Dooney and Ruairi Finnegan are two more first-choices who are out injured.

Irish team for European Cross-Countries, Budapest, December 9

Senior men: J Sweeney (DSD), M Mulhare (Portlaoise), S Hehir (Rathfarnham), B Maher (KCH), D Rooney (Raheny), B O'Neill (DSD). Senior women: F Britton (Kilcoole), A Hutchinson (DSD), L Lee (Leevale), S McCormack (Clonliffe), L Byrne (DSD), SL Treacy (Moynalvey). U23 men: C Johnston (Letterkenny), D Fitzmaurice (Clonliffe), P Hogan (Ferrybank), S Mealy (Crusaders), J Travers (Donore), S Quinn (Ferrybank). U23 women: U Britton (Kilcoole), L Behan (KCH). Junior men: S Kerr (Armagh), I Guiden (Clonliffe), K Mooney (DSD), E Totten (Newcastle), S Tobin (Clonmel). Junior women: S Cleirigh-Buttner (DSD), L Conroy (Mullingar Harriers), M Mulhare (Portlaoise), C McCarthy (DSD), MA O'Sullivan (Tinryland), S Collins (Finn Valley).

Breen tops WRC poll

RALLY: Waterford man Craig Breen has been voted World Rally Driver of the Year by the WRC. The poll, carried out on WRC.com, saw the driver gain 39pc of the vote with Norwegian driver Mads Ostberg second on 38pc.

Sebastien Loeb, who clinched his ninth World Rally title in 2012, came third with 8pc of the vote.

Breen has had a turbulent season. The 22-year-old began the year winning the opening round of the SWRC in Monte Carlo.

Tragedy struck in June, though, when a crash at the Targa Florio rally in Sicily saw Breen lose his co-driver and best friend, Welshman Gareth Roberts. Despite this, Breen got back behind the wheel weeks later and on Roberts' home event, Rally GB, secured another SWRC win. He backed this up with a win in France and, two weeks ago, a victory at the Rally de Espana to take the Super 2000 World Rally Championship. This secured Breen's second world rally title in as many years.

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