Different name, same result as Fionnuala McCormack takes seventh title

Wicklow runner rediscovers her cross-country roots to take club crown

Fionnuala McCormack won her seventh   National Inter-club Cross Country title at Santry. Photograph:  Sasa Pahic Szabo/Inpho

Fionnuala McCormack won her seventh National Inter-club Cross Country title at Santry. Photograph: Sasa Pahic Szabo/Inpho

 

Different name, same result, and any fear that Fionnuala McCormack might struggle to rediscover her cross-country roots swiftly disappeared over the soft ground of Santry Demesne.

In winning a seventh National Inter-club Cross Country title, McCormack – nee Britton, now running under her married name – also laid down an impressive marker for next month’s European Cross Country in the south of France. The former two-time champion, who just six weeks ago ran the Rio Olympic qualifying standard in the marathon, certainly looked back at home on the country.

Indeed it was her first cross-country race this year, having switched her attention to the roads in recent months. Only it was like she never went away – the Wicklow athlete gently pressing ahead as the 8km race progressed to win by some 200 metres from Cork’s Lizzie Lee, who also ran the Rio Olympic qualifying standard at the end of September.

Indeed Lee was the only one capable of making any sort of chase, although truth is McCormack was in a class of her own. She admits she’s not yet sure of her form going into that European Cross Country in Hyeres on December 13th, but there will be medal ambitions nonetheless, at least on the team. Last year the Irish women won team bronze, and were outright champions in 2012

“I’ve no idea what shape I’m in going into the Europeans,” said McCormack, in terms of individual medal aspirations. “Obviously I’ll be going in to do my very best but we’ll have to see and of course do my best for the team also.”

Lee was equally satisfied with her run, especially given she also led her club Leevale to the women’s team title for the first time in their long history. Caroline Crowley from Crusaders ran an excellent race to finish third, while Dundrum South Dublin finished second in the team, with Raheny Shamrock third.

“I went for it,” said Lee. “Nobody was sure of Fionnuala’s form so I put myself out there and in the mix. There was no beating her. I won the race amongst the rest. I’m ecstatic we won the team title. It’s our first ever time to win it.”

The senior men’s race was won in equally dominant style by Mick Clohisey from Raheny Shamrock, his third title in succession – and indeed the first man to win three Inter-club titles back to back in 35 years. Again, Clohisey is just returning to the country having also secured the Rio Olympic marathon qualifying time in Berlin in September, although like McCormack, no adjustment from road to country was required.

Instead Clohisey took control from the off of the 10km race, with MSB’s John Coghlan running very well to second, while Paul Pollock from Annadale Striders came through for third. Leevale missed out on the men’s team title by a single point to Clonliffe Harriers, 47 to 48, with Raheny Shamrock narrowly behind on 51.

Hope Saunders (Clonliffe Harriers) and Kevin Mulcaire (Ennis Track Club) were impressive winners of the junior women’s 4,000m and junior men’s 6,000m respectively, with DSD women and Clonliffe Harriers men winning the junior team titles.

There were several standout winners in the juvenile races with Amy Rose Farrell (Blackrock AC) and Darragh McIlheny (Bantry) particularly impressive in the U16 age group.

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