Saturday 7 December 2019

Britton turns focus to Euros after Inter-county stroll

Fionnuala Britton, Kilcoole AC, Co. Wicklow, on her way to winning the Senior Women's 8000m race at the GloHealth Inter County & Juvenile Even Age Cross Country Championships. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
Fionnuala Britton, Kilcoole AC, Co. Wicklow, on her way to winning the Senior Women's 8000m race at the GloHealth Inter County & Juvenile Even Age Cross Country Championships. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

Lindie Naughton

Fionnuala Britton and Paul Pollock both made successful defences of their titles at the Glo Heath Inter-county Cross-Country Championships at Dundalk IT.

Britton coasted to an easy victory, while Pollock retained his title in the sprint for the line.

Britton, who made her marathon debut at the European Championships in August, admitted to feeling nervous on the start line, but she soon felt her way into the race and by the end of the opening lap, had already built up a sizeable gap on the field.

As the sticky underfoot conditions took their toll, Michelle Finn of Leevale passed Sarah Treacy of Dunboyne for second place, while Riocht's Laura Crowe moved into third place on the final lap.

Britton, the European champion in 2011 and 2012, was pleased with how she had run.

"It's races like this that make you love cross-country," she said after she had crossed the line and dealt with a swarm of young fans.

With the European Cross-Country Championships in Bulgaria three weeks away, Britton will fine-tune her preparations at next weekend's Cross de l'Acier in France.

In a thrilling men's race, Pollock showed a welcome return to form after injury forced him out of the European Championships marathon in August.

From midway through the 10km race, he was running alongside Mick Clohisey of Raheny and Leevale's Mark Hanrahan. The three turned the corner into the finish straight together and only a mighty effort on Pollock's part saw him pull away for victory.

"I'm back running only six and a half weeks, so it's nice to come back with a win," said the London-based doctor.

Finishing his 25th consecutive Inter-County Cross-Country Championships in 38th place was Pauric McKinney of Donegal, who turns 50 next year and was wearing his county vest with pride.

In the combined U-18/junior men's race, Kevin Mulcaire of Ennis came home a comfortable overall winner, although Jack O'Leary of Mullingar Harriers did his best to hang on, until himself passed by UCD's Con Doherty for second place.

Dublin champion Hope Saunders of Clonliffe won the combined U-18/junior women's title.

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