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Fionnuala McCormack named in Ireland team for European Cross Country Championships


Fionnuala McCormack

Fionnuala McCormack

Fionnuala McCormack

Fionnuala McCormack has been named in the Irish team for the European Cross Country Championships on December 12, the 37-year-old Wicklow athlete set to contest the event in Abbotstown just seven days after racing the Valencia Marathon.

McCormack, who won the senior women's title in 2011 and 2012, was absent from Sunday's nationals as she builds up to the race in Valencia on December 5, which has been the focus of her training in recent months.

While her participation will likely hinge on how she recovers from that race, she would likely add significant strength to the six-strong senior women's team.

Named alongside her is Michelle Finn, who won her first national cross country title with a commanding display in Santry Demesne on Sunday, along with Aoibhe Richardson, Aoife Cooke and twin sisters Eilish and Roisin Flanagan.

Eilish Flanagan missed the nationals due to commitments in the US but was selected based on an impressive showing over 8km on the road last weekend, clocking just outside 26 minutes.

The men's team is led by Hiko Tonosa of Dundrum South Dublin, who'll be joined by clubmates Paul O'Donnell and Emmet Jennings along with Ryan Forsyth, who all followed him home on Sunday.

Two US-based athletes have been added to the team, with Cormac Dalton and Brian Fay picked based off their runs at the NCAA Championships on Saturday.

Rising stars Sarah Healy and Darragh McElhinney will spearhead the home challenge at U-23 level, the UCD students impressing with a pair of runner-up finishes against senior opponents on Sunday.

The best chance of team success for Ireland will lie with the U-20 men's team, which is replete with class, featuring a pair of European U-20 champions on the track this year in Nick Griggs and Cian McPhillips.

Griggs was highly impressive when taking the U-20 title last weekend ahead of Dean Casey, the Ennis Track athlete who has run below 14 minutes for 5000m this year.

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The sole selection among them who didn't compete at nationals is Abdel Laadjel, the Donore Harrier who is currently studying at Providence College in Rhode Island.

Leevale's Jane Buckley leads the U-20 women's team, which will be strengthened by the addition of Laura Mooney, who is also studying at Providence.

Ireland looks to have a team able to contend for medals in the mixed relay, which features Olympians Andrew Coscoran, Síofra Cléirigh-Buttner and Ciara Mageean, along with Luke McCann.

Irish team for European Cross Country Championships – December 12

Senior men: Hiko Tonosa, Paul O'Donnell, Emmet Jennings, Ryan Forsyth, Brian Fay, Cormac Dalton

Senior women: Michelle Finn, Roisin Flanagan, Aoibhe Richardson, Aoife Cooke, Fionnuala McCormack, Eilish Flanagan

U-23 men: Darragh McElhinney, Keelan Kilrehill, Thomas McStay, Micheal Power, Donal Devane, Thomas Devaney

U-23 women: Sarah Healy, Aoife O'Cuill, Danielle Donegan, Lauren Tinkler, Ruth Heery, Jodie McCann

U-20 men: Nick Griggs, Dean Casey, Scott Fagan, Sean Kay, Cian McPhillips, Abdel Laadjel

U-20 women: Jane Buckley, Emma McEvoy, Rebecca Rossiter, Laura Mooney, Aoife McGreevy, Róise Roberts

Mixed relay: Andrew Coscoran, Luke McCann, Ciara Mageean, Síofra Cléirigh-Buttner

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