Thursday 23 May 2019

Britton drives for her fifth 'inter-counties' crown


Fionnuala Britton is looking to win her fifth inter-counties championship. Greally / SPORTSFILE
Fionnuala Britton is looking to win her fifth inter-counties championship. Greally / SPORTSFILE

Cliona Foley

Athletics Ireland will hold an 'open forum' on cross-country early in the new year, in response to the root-and-branch review that was demanded at Congress this season.

Among the issues that have dogged the discipline recently is the presence of two domestic championships (the inter-counties and inter-clubs), especially the latter in February/March, given the rise of indoor competitions.

The first of them - the inter-counties - take place in Dundalk IT on Sunday and are usually ultra-competitive as they operate as trials for next month's European cross-countries.

Fionnuala Britton is looking to match the achievements of Catherina McKiernan and Anne Keenan-Buckley by winning her fifth 'inter-counties' but is expected to face a strong challenge (at 1.45) from Mary Cullen, who won the inter-club title in her last cross-country in 2013.

Also included are last year's runner-up Sarah Treacy (Dunboyne) and bronze medallist Sarah McCormack, as well as in-form Ann Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny) and Ciara Durkin (Skerries).

Men's champion Paul Pollock (Annadale) is back to defend his title (2.25) after an injury lay-off but DSD's Brendan O'Neill has been the form man of the season so far.

The Mulhare brothers Michael and Dan made last year's podium, and the strong field also includes Mick Clohissey (Raheny), Mark Christie (Mullingar), Mark Hanrahan (Leevale) as well as O'Neill's strong Dublin teammates Conor Dooney and John Travers.

Clonmel's Sean Tobin is not involved as he is among eight Irish students who have qualified for tomorrow's US collegiate cross-country 'nationals' in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Tobin (University of Mississippi) was fourth in his region, Raheny's Kevin Dooney (Yale) and Ferrybank's Shane Quinn (Providence) were third and fourth, while Wicklow's Tara Jameson qualified sixth in her region.

Mullingar's Jake Byrne has already won his conference and region so goes to NCAA 'nationals' unbeaten.

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