Ireland women seal team European Cross Country bronze
Fionnuala McCormack finishes fourth to help team beat Spain and Italy into third
The Ireland women’s team who won bronze at the European Cross Country Championships, from left to right, Caroline Crowley, Ciara Durkan, Fionnuala McCormack, Lizzie Lee, Kerry O’Flaherty and Michelle Finn. Photograph: Inpho
The effort couldn’t have been more complete and the reward duly justified as for the second successive year the Irish women have run themselves onto the medal podium at the European Cross Country Championships.
Fionnuala McCormack fell just short of an individual medal when finishing a close fourth over the testing course around Hyères in the south of France, but there was immediate consolation when the team results saw Ireland finish comfortably in third, behind Great Britain and France. It thus repeats the team bronze won in Bulgaria last year.
Backing up McCormack with excellent runs were Lizzie Lee in 13th, Caroline Crowley in 23rd, and Ciara Durkan in 43rd - bringing the Irish team total to 83 points, well ahead of Spain (95) and Italy (118), who finished fourth and fifth.
Outright victory went to the former Ethiopia Sifan Hassan, now running in the Dutch colours, who finished the 8km course in 25:57; second place went to Britain’s Kate Avery, with Karoline Grovdal from Norway just holding off McCormack for third by three seconds, 25:57 to 26:00.
Still it was another impressive run for McCormack, the former two-time individual winner, given she has now turned her main focus to the marathon, having qualified for Rio.
The team bronze will also sit very well with the quartet, especially Crowley, the Dublin solicitor who only took up running three years ago, and now makes the medal podium in what was her first international race of any sort.