Tuesday, November 23, 2021

BY virtue of her second place finish in the National U23 Cross Country Championships in Santry on Sunday, Aoife O’Cuill has now been included on the Irish Squad for the SPAR European Cross Country Championships which is set for the Sport Ireland Campus in Fingal, Dublin on 12 December.


Aoife O’Cuill (St Coca’s AC) has been selected on the Irish Team for the SPAR European Championships next month Photo: Perri William

The selection on the Irish team is a just reward for Aoife’s performances all year as Perri Williams’s report in Tuesday’s Kildare Nationalist tells us. “Aoife has been performing well all year starting with a win in the U23 1500m All Irelands back in June and qualifying for the European U23 10,000m Championships. Back in October she finished 7th in the Autumn Open and the first U23 athlete home.”

Sarah Healy (UCD AC) will lead the charge for U23 team and will be joined, as well as Aoife O’Cuill, by Danielle Donegan (UCD AC), Ruth Heery (Waterford AC), and DCH pair Lauren Tinkler (Dublin City Harriers AC) and Jodie McCann (Dublin City Harriers AC).

Fionnuala McCormack (Kilcoole AC) heads an Irish squad stacked with Olympic and European championship experience for the event.

McCormack is joined in the squad by fellow Tokyo Olympians, Ciara Mageean (City of Lisburn AC), Sarah Healy (UCD AC), Eilish Flanagan (Finn Valley AC), Aoife Cooke (Eagle AC), Andrew Coscoran (Star of the Sea AC), and yesterday’s Irish Life Health National Cross Country champion Michelle Finn (Leevale AC).

The senior women’s team will see McCormack, Mageean, Flanagan, and Cooke, joined by Roisin Flanagan (Finn Valley AC) and Aiobhe Richardson (Kilkenny City Harriers), both of whom put it impressive performances at yesterday’s national championships to finish 3rd and 4th respectively.

The senior men’s team will include Hiko Tonosa (Dundrum South Dublin) who looked ultra-smooth in taking the men’s national cross country title within the last 24 hours. Tonsa will be joined by clubmates Paul O’Donnell (Dundrum South Dublin) and Emmet Jennings (Dundrum South Dublin), adding further celebration for DSD who claimed the national club title yesterday.

Ryan Forsyth (Newcastle and District A.C.) will offer previous European cross country experience, while the pair of Brian Fay (Raheny Shamrock AC) and Cormac Dalton (Mullingar Harriers AC) will return from action stateside following superb performances at the NCAAs.

The men’s U23 team includes the classy Darragh McElhinney (UCD AC), and the Bandon athlete will be joined by Keelan Kilrehill (Moyvalley AC), Thomas McStay (Galway City Harriers), Micheal Power (West Waterford AC), Thomas Devaney (Castlebar AC), and Donal Devane (Ennis Track AC).

Jane Buckley (Leevale AC) was first to claim one of the automatic selection places for Fingal-Dublin 2021 and she will be joined in the women’s U20 team by Emma McEvoy (Dundrum South Dublin), Rebecca Rossiter (Loughview AC), Laura Mooney (Tullamore Harriers AC), Aoife McGreevy (UCD AC), and Róise Roberts (North Belfast Harriers AC).

The men’s U20 team looks particularly strong and boasts two recent European U20 gold medallists over 3000m and 1500m in Nicholas Griggs (Mid Ulster A.C.) and Cian McPhillips (UCD AC).

They will be joined by Abdel Laadjel (Donore Harriers) who returns from action stateside as well as Dean Casey (Ennis Track AC), Scott Fagan (Metro/St. Brigid’s AC), and Sean Kay (Clonliffe Harriers AC) who all performed superbly in national championship competition over the weekend.

The mixed relay team will have no shortage of experience with Andrew Coscoran (Star of the Sea), Ciara Mageean (City of Lisburn AC), Luke McCann (UCD AC), and Siofra Cleirigh Buttner (Dundrum South Dublin) completing a stacked team.

Athletics Ireland, National Endurance Co-ordinator, Matt Locket said: “We must acknowledge the outstanding work from athletes to put themselves in contention for selection at these home championships. The depth in the Nationals Cross Country championships was fabulous to see, and is a testament to the work of coaches around the country. We have a great history when it comes to European cross country competition and we are in no doubt those who have been selected are primed to take on the best in Europe in just a few weeks’ time.”

The SPAR European Cross Country Championships Fingal-Dublin will take place on the purpose built cross country course on the Sport Ireland Campus. The facility was developed by Sport Ireland in consultation with Athletics Ireland to provide the first permanent national cross country track for both training and competition in Ireland. The purpose built cross country course on the Sport Ireland Campus is unique in character and amenity, and provides an exciting world class venue for athletes, spectators and media alike.


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