Fionnuala Britton looks on schedule for European Cross Country championships

Wicklow woman wins Gerry Farnan Cross Country for a third successive year

As opening races go it couldn't have been more comfortable and suddenly Fionnuala Britton is bang on schedule to challenge for a third successive European Cross Country title.

In winning the Gerry Farnan Cross Country for a third successive year, mocking the hard, steep inclines of the Phoenix Park, Britton showed no lingering effects of the illness which forced her to miss most of the track season: instead everything looks perfectly geared for another European Cross Country in Belgrade, Serbia on December 8th.

With typical front-running tactics Britton dominated the three-mile race, her winning time of 15 minutes and 45 seconds a long way clear of Sara Louise Treacy, in 16:26.

Treacy was part of the Irish team that also won gold medals in the Europeans last December, in Budapest, led home by Britton. Coming through for third was track specialist Laura Crowe, clocking 16:36, who also looks set to strengthen the depth of the Irish women's challenge in Belgrade. In the battle for fourth Ann Marie McGlynn, just held off Ciara Durkin, both athletes given the same time of 16:44.


Men's five-mile
In the men's five-mile race Michael Mulhare got the better of old rival David McCarthy, winning in 24:30, with McCarthy 21 seconds back: both were part of the Irish under-23 team that won European gold in 2010, and are making steady progress on the senior stage. Coming through for third, fittingly, was John Coghlan from host club Metro St Brigid's: the Gerry Farnan event, in its 30th year, is named in memory of the man who for many years coached Eamonn Coghlan, father of John. Mark Hanrahan also ran well to fourth in 25.10.

In the junior women's race Siofra Cleirigh Buttner from Dundrum-South Dublin was typically dominating, as was Sean Tobin, from Clonmel AC, in the junior men's race.

The top four finishers in the senior and junior races, and the top two under-23 finishers, will now move on to represent Ireland at the Lotto Cross Cup in Antwerp, Belgium on November 3rd.

Athletics Ireland has also announced a couple a changes to the cross country season: the Inter-counties cross country, has been brought forward a week, to November 17th. The championships, set for in Santry, Dublin, will also feature a number of invited international athletes.

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics