Fionnuala McCormack’s unmistakable service and unwavering commitment and consistency when it comes to European cross country are such that it seems almost unreasonable and unfair to ask for more at this time. Even with the natural excitement of the home event which is Sunday in Abbotstown.
Just last Sunday in Valencia, four months after running the Olympic marathon, McCormack produced a new life record of almost three minutes, his 2:23:58 “getting closer and closer to the Irish record which did been untouched for over 23. Now 37, McCormack would feel perfectly entitled to sit at her home in Wicklow this weekend with her feet raised, her husband and two young daughters.
Instead, she signed up at Abbotstown a few weeks ago, in her own words ‘unable to resist the lure’ of European cross country skiing at home, and in truth if the Irish women’s team needs to win another medal (she’s won four in the last eight editions of the championships, including gold in 2012, McCormack top scorer each time), so her presence is indeed the determining factor. How well she recovered from 26.2 miles of racing, seven days later, only Sunday will tell.
What is certain is that McCormack will enjoy the competition. Only Catherina McKiernan, with her Irish record of 2:22:23 since Amsterdam in 1998, is fastest on the Irish women’s all-time list, and McCormack continues to follow in her footsteps in other ways as well, with McKiernan winning the first European Cross. -Country in 1994.
Sunday also marks McCormack’s 17th appearance in the event, more than any other woman in European athletics history, the first as a junior returning to Thun, Switzerland, 20 years ago that same weekend. -end. In 2011 and then 2012, she became the first woman to win two consecutive titles, also finishing fourth on four occasions, including the last edition in Lisbon in 2019.
Join the hunt
McCormack isn’t the only returning goalscorer from two years ago, Kilkenny’s Aoibhe Richardson is also back to join the chase, the addition of runaway National Cross-Country winner Michelle Finn to Santry last month, ensuring that they will be in this medal race again.
In the senior men’s category, Ireland has only climbed the podium once, 21 years ago, when the quartet of Peter Matthews, Seamus Power, Gareth Turnbull and Keith Kelly took bronze in MalmÃ¶, in Sweden. It’s not a big comeback in 21 years since and Sunday shouldn’t change that, although Hiko Tonosa Haso won’t dread this level of competition, her first European cross-country for her adopted country, the presence of the champion. Norwegian Olympic 1,500m Jakob Ingebrigtsen, who has just turned 21 and the best runner in the world at the moment, an obvious measure of the opposition.
There are medal hopes among the other five Irish teams, including the mixed 4x1500m relay, introduced in 2017, which features three Tokyo Olympians in Andrew Coscoran, Ciara Mageean and SÃofra ClÃ©irigh BÃ¼ttner, as well as the very promising Luke McCann, and if all four of them race to train and make the most of the home support on the Sport Ireland campus, they will be hard to beat.
Under 23 races can be difficult to predict at times, with Sarah Healy and Darragh McElhinney certainly in good shape, the long and fast nature of the course likely to their liking too. The women’s Under-23 team, which won silver in 2019, is certainly capable of doing this feat again.
Then there’s Nick Griggs, Tyrone’s runner just a week away from his 17th birthday, who won the European under-20 title over 3,000m this summer with such a fearless display of forward-thinking tactical awareness. and always clever that anything seems possible. Despite his young age, it’s not unreasonable to expect Griggs to start the day off on the right foot.
Irish teams for European cross country in Abbotstown
Hiko Tonosa Haso DSD AC Feidhlim Kelly
Paul O’Donnell DSD AC Donal Hennigan
Emmet Jennings DSD AC Donal Hennigan
Ryan forsyth Newcastle & District AC Richard Rodgers
Brian fay Raheny Shamrock AC Andy Powell
Cormac Dalton Mullingar Harriers AC Taylor Gulley
Michelle finn Leevale AC
Roestin Flanagan Finn Valley AC
Aoibhe Richardson Kilkenny City Harrier
Aoife Cooke Eagle AC
Fionnuala mccormack Kilcoole AC
Eilish Flanagan Finn Valley AC
UNDER 23 MEN
Darragh McElhinney UCD CA
Keelan Kilrehill Moy Valley AC
Jamie battle Mullingar harriers
Michel Power West Waterford AC
Don Devane Ennis Athletics Club
Thomas devaney Castlebar AC
WOMEN UNDER 23
Sarah healy UCD CA
Aoife O’Cuill AC de St Coca
Danielle Donegan UCD CA
Lauren Tinkler Dublin Harrier
Ruth heery Waterford AC
Jodie mccann Dublin Harrier
UNDER 20 MEN
Nick griggs Mid Ulster AC
Dean Casey Ennis Athletics Club
Scott fagan St Brigid’s Metro
Sean kay Clonliffe Harrier
Cathal o’reilly Kilkenny City Harrier
Abdel Laadjel Donore Harriers AC
Jane buckley Leevale AC
Emma McEvoy DSD CA
Rebecca Rossiter Loughview AC
Laura mooney Tullamore Harrier
Aoife McGreevy UCD CA
Roise roberts North Belfast Harrier
MIXED RELAY 4 X 1500m
AndrÃ© Coscoran AC Starfish
Luc McCann UCD CA
Ciara Magean City of Lisburn AC
SÃofra ClÃ©irigh BÃ¼ttner Dundrum South Dublin
(Live on RTÃ One, RTÃ Player and europe-athletics.com)
10h Under 20 men (6km)
10h28 Women under 20 (4km)
10:50 a.m. Men under 23 (8 km)
11:23 Women under 23 (6km)
12:21 Mixed relay (4x1500m)
13:13 Senior men (10km)
1:53 p.m. Senior women (8km)