Friday 15 December 2017

McCarthy bids to set record straight in Santry showdown

ATHLETICS Cliona Foley

HE IS the only man already pre-selected to represent Ireland at next month's European Cross-Country Championships in Belgrade, but David McCarthy still wants to be first across the line in Santry on Sunday in what amounts to an Irish trial.

That's because the 25-year-old West Waterford runner has not only never won the Woodies DIY Irish senior inter-county cross-country title – he has never even taken part in the event.

It is a major anomaly given how many underage and schools titles – on the track and in the mud – that McCarthy amassed before taking the American university route to Providence College. Three years ago he was also the first Irishman home in the U-23 race at European Cross-Countries in Albufeira, where his 11th place led his country to a surprise team gold.

"Between illness and injuries, it just hasn't happened. Last year, for example, I got injured the week beforehand," he explained.

The top three home in each race on Sunday will be automatically selected for the Europeans.

"The quality of the field looks really strong so we should be able to put together a really strong team for the European Cross-Countries," enthused McCarthy, who booked his place by finishing an impressive fourth place in a recent international in Belgium.

McCarthy is now based in Dublin, where he is training with Chris Jones' elite group and studying for a PhD in DCU.

Defending champion Joe Sweeney, who made his marathon debut last month, is bidding for a four in a row, and the field also includes new Irish marathon champion Sean Hehir, Michael Mulhare, who was runner-up last year, Paul Pollock, John Travers, Stephen Scullion and John Coghlan.

With defending champion Ava Hutchinson out injured, two-time European champion Fionnuala Britton (also pre-selected for Belgrade) is hot favourite to take the women's race.

Lizzie Lee, Sarah McCormack, Sarah Treacy, Maria McCambridge, Laura Crowe and Ann Marie McGlynn should be in the mix for top six spots.

The day's racing starts with juveniles at 11.30, while the junior races (from 1.0) will feature talents like Clonmel's Sean Tobin, DSD's Siofra Cleirigh Buttner and Westport's Con Doherty, the best young triathlete in Ireland who won bronze at the World Junior Triathlon Championships last year.

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