Fionnuala McCormack becomes Ireland’s most capped woman athlete

McCormack makes it 35 international selections ahead of European Cross Country championships

Fionnuala McCormack during the 2016 European Cross Country Championships in Italy. Photo: Sasa Pahic Szabo/Inpho

Fionnuala McCormack during the 2016 European Cross Country Championships in Italy. Photo: Sasa Pahic Szabo/Inpho

 

The selection was a given and also sees Fionnuala McCormack overtake Sonia O’Sullivan as Ireland’s most capped international woman of all time but still it’s all about one thing only: winning back the European Cross Country title. 

McCormack had been equal with O’Sullivan with her 34 international selections, and now goes one better when leading the Irish women’s team into next month’s European Cross Country championships in the Slovak town of Samorín. 

Indeed it’s her 15th appearance in these championships alone, including junior and under-23 races, another record: and at age 33 the Wicklow woman certainly hasn’t given up hope of getting back to the top of the medal podium. 

McCormack’s race record over the past seven years also speaks for itself: back-to-back titles in 2011-12, plus three fourth-place finishes, one fifth, and one sixth – that fifth place coming in Sardinia, Italy last year, behind two Kenyan-born runners, Yasemin Can and Meryem Akda, now running for Turkey, despite neither living nor even training there. 

The IAAF has since put on freeze on all transfer of nationalities until various loopholes are closed, although that comes too late for McCormack: early indications are both Can and Akda will be running again in šamorín. 

Anyway, the European Cross Country has only been going since 1994, and McCormack has competed in more than half of them. The Kilcoole AC runner part of a 27-strong Irish team that will make the trip to Slovakia on December 10th, with hopes of at least getting amongst the team medals. 

Paul Pollock of Annadale Striders won the men’s senior men’s title on Sunday and will head the senior men’s team, while McCormack is joined by Shona Heaslip (An Riocht AC), Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle & District AC), Michelle Finn (Leevale AC), Lizzie Lee (Leevale AC), Fionnuala Ross (Armagh AC); Unlike recent years the top three women make up the team score, whereas in previous years it was four. 

Irish teams, European Cross Country Championships, šamorín, Slovakia, December 10th: 

 Senior Men: Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders A.C.), Kevin Dooney (Raheny Shamrock AC), Hugh Armstrong (Ballina A.C.), John Travers (Donore Harriers AC), Sean Tobin (Clonmel A.C.), Kevin Maunsell (Clonmel A.C.)

Senior Women: Shona Heaslip (An Riocht A.C.), Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle & District A.C.), Michelle Finn (Leevale A.C.), Lizzie Lee (Leevale A.C.), Fionnuala Ross (Armagh A.C), Fionnuala McCormack (Kilcoole A.C.)

U23 Men: Tom O’Keeffe (Kilkenny City Harriers), Eoin Strutt (Raheny Shamrock A.C.)

U23 Women: Bethanie Murray (Dundrum South Dublin A.C.)

U20 Men: Craig McMeechan (North Down A.C.), Brian Fay (Raheny Shamrock A.C.), Charlie O’Donovan (Leevale A.C.), Fearghal Curtin (Youghal A.C.), James Edgar (City of Lisburn A.C.), Darragh McElhinney (Bantry A.C.)

U20 Women: Laura Nicholson (Bandon A.C.), Stephanie Cotter (West Muskerry A.C.), Jodie McCann (Dundrum South Dublin A.C.), Fian Sweeney (Dublin City Harriers A.C.), Sophie Murphy (Dundrum South Dublin A.C.), Fiona Everard (Bandon A.C.).

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