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Athletics: Irish boss confident ill stars will be fit for Euros

IRELAND team manager Teresa McDaid is confident that several athletes who did not race in Sunday's national inter-counties because of illness, but were still selected for the European Championships, will be fully up to speed in two weeks' time.

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); Kevin Dooney and Ruairi Finnegan are two more first-choices who are out injured.

As usual, the team includes several US-based athletes who did not fly home for nationals.

Last weekend's junior winner Stephen Kerry (Armagh) did come home from America but his return was made easier because he is staying in Ireland now until January.

His McNeese University team-mate David Rooney (seventh in the recent NCAA nationals), DSD's Brendan O'Neill, Ferrybank's Shane Quinn and Finn Valley's Sara Collins (10th at the NCAAs) did not travel but all have been selected on the basis of their US collegiate form.

Rooney and O'Neill join the top four senior men from last Sunday, led by DSD's Joe Sweeney, who was fifth at the Euros last year.

A full men's U-23 team has been selected, but the lack of depth in women has been reflected by the selection of just two U-23s – Britton's sister Una and Kilkenny's Laura Behan.

And while a full junior women's team has been selected, just five junior men have been selected.

"We have solid teams competing, with chances of quality performances at junior and senior level," McDaid said, but she cautioned that many juniors are making their debuts at this level.

Ireland 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).

U-23 men – C Johnston (Letterkenny), D Fitzmaurice (Clonliffe), P Hogan (Ferrybank), S Mealy (Crusaders), J Travers (Donore), S Quinn (Ferrybank).

U-23 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).

Irish Independent