Wicklow’s Fionnuala McCormack puts on amazing performance, finishes 4th in Senior Women’s Race

It was another day to remember for Irish athletics at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Brussels this afternoon (Dec 10th). Fionnuala McCormack (Kilcoole AC) produced one of the all-time great Irish performances to finish fourth in the senior women’s race, following up on the success of the U20 men’s team who claimed gold earlier in the day thanks to a superb run from Nick Griggs (Candour Track Club) who also picked up the individual bronze medal.

Competing at her 18th European Cross Country Championships, the context of McCormack’s result was made all the more impressive in that only last weekend she secured the qualifying time for her fifth Olympics at the Valencia Marathon, less than six months after giving birth to her third child.

Speaking after the race, McCormack, who finished in fourth place for the fifth time at these championships said: “It’s hard to sum it up. It’s never easy to come fourth and I’ve done it so many times at this stage and I really wanted to be on that podium again so I’m going to have to come back again now”.

McCormack continued: “You want to get on the podium so it’s a bit disappointing, but it was great to be in contention and to be chasing down the medals. The support out there was unbelievable, and it was a great race to be a part of. I had in my mind that I really wanted to do this, and my preparations were the same as two years ago so I was happy with my recovery and I think the race went pretty well”.

The senior women’s medals went the way of Karoline Bjerkeli Grovdl (NOR) 33:40, Nadia Battocletti (ITA) 34:25, and Abbie Donnelly (GBR) 34:42, with McCormack crossing the finish 18 seconds behind the leading trio over the new 9,000m distance.

There was also a huge performance from the senior team in the men’s race with national champion Cormac Dalton (Mullingar Harriers) leading them home with an eighth place finish. The team was unlucky not to medal and had to settle for fourth overall thanks to top-22 placings from Keelan Kilrehill (Mov Valley AC) 17th, Hugh Armstrong (Ballina AC) 20th, and Brian Fay (Raheny Shamrock) 22nd.

The day started with a bang for Ireland with a superb team performance in the men’s U20 race seeing five Irish athletes inside the top 30 places as they raced away to gold thanks to their first three scorers all securing top ten finishes including Niall Murphy in ninth and Jonas Stafford tenth.

The team was spearheaded by the bronze-medal-winning run from Nick Griggs with Seamus Robinson (City of Derry Spartans AC), Shane Brosnan (An Riocht), and Harry Colbert (Waterford AC) all contributing to the team as they improved on last year’s silver medal.

Speaking after the race, Nick Griggs said: “It was a pretty special one. It was a really tough battle out there with the leaders up front and I wanted to win, but I can’t complain with bronze in those tough conditions given what happened at nationals. To lead this team home to a gold is so special after the last two silvers so we’re all delighted”.

The U20 gold and silver individual medals came down to a sprint finish with Axel Vang Christensen (DEN) outsprinting Niels Laros (NED) to cross the 5,000m route in a winning time of 16:09, with Griggs following them home in 16:24.

The women’s U20 team finished fifth overall with standout performances Anna Gardiner (East Down AC) in eighth and Kirsty Maher (Moy Valley) in twelfth, while the U23 teams finished eight (women) and tenth (men) respectively with one of the highlights of the day being the brilliant display of cross country running from national champion Danielle Donegan (Tullamore Harriers) who worked her way through the field to secure an eight place finish.

Today’s performances continue a remarkably consistent medal-winning-run for Irish athletes at European Cross Country Championships. Ireland has won 14 medals over the last 4 editions of these championships; a stat made all the more impressive when set against the 13 medals won in the previous 25 editions.  

SUMMARY RESULTS

U20 Men Race

Individual Medals

1 259 CHRISTENSEN Axel Vang DEN 30 JUL 2004 16:09

2 317 LAROS Niels NED 17 APR 2005 16:10

3 299 GRIGGS Nicholas IRL 18 DEC 2004 16:24

Team Medals

  • Ireland 22       
  • Great Britain & NI 24
  • Spain 43

Irish Finishing Positions (Team 1st):

  • Nick Griggs (CNDR Track Club) 3rd
  • Niall Murphy (Ennis Track) 9th
  • Jonas Stafford (UCD AC) 10th
  • Seamus Robinson (City of Derry Spartans AC) 26th
  • Shane Brosnan (An Riocht) 28th
  • Harry Colbert (Waterford AC) 40th

U20 Women Race

Individual Medals

1 725 FITZGERALD Innes GBR 6 APR 2006 18:19

2 708 THØGERSEN Sofia DEN 6 JUL 2005 18:38

3 721 LE CORRE Jade FRA 20 OCT 2005 18:49

Team Medals:

  • Great Britain & NI 22 
  • Germany 34   
  • Sweden 37

Irish finishing positions (Team 5th):  

  • Anna Gardiner (East Down AC) 7th
  • Kirsty Maher (Moy Valley) 12th
  • Amy Greene (Finn Valley AC) 29th
  • Hannah Kehoe (Kilkenny City Harriers) 45th
  • Maebh Richardson (Kilkenny City Harriers) 54th
  • Avril Millerick (Youghal AC) 59th

U23 Men Race

Individual Medals:

1 426 BARNICOAT Will GBR 24 MAR 2003 23:42

2 422 BRESC Valentin FRA 27 MAY 2001 23:42

3 431 STONIER Matthew GBR 24 SEP 2001 23:51

Team Medals:

  • Great Britain & NI 25 
  • France 34       
  • Norway 42

Irish Finishing Positions (Team 10th):

  • Oisin Spillane (Ennis Track Club) 28th
  • Dean Casey (Ennis Track) 29th
  • Callum Morgan (CNDR Track Club) 41st
  • Abdel Laadjel (Donore Harriers) 51st
  • Michael Morgan (Sligo AC) 54th
  • Matthew Lavery (North Belfast Harriers) 61st

U23 Women Race (6000m)

Individual Medals:

1 828 KEITH Megan GBR 23 APR 2002 25:32

2 820 MONONEN Ilona FIN 18 DEC 2003 26:55

3 819 BLOMQVIST Nathalie FIN 20 APR 2001 27:06

Team Medals:

  • Great Britain & NI 27 
  • Germany 50   
  • Spain 50

Irish Finishing Positions (Team 11th):

  • Danielle Donegan (Tullamore Harriers) 8th
  • Anika Thompson (Leevale AC) 46th
  • Ava O’Connor (Tullamore Harriers) 63rd
  • Aoife Coffey (Lucan Harriers) 66th
  • Aoife O’Cuill (St Cocas) 70th
  • Eimear Maher (Dundrum South Dublin AC) 72nd

Senior Women Race

Individual Medals:

1 658 GRØVDAL Karoline Bjerkeli NOR 14 JUN 1990 33:40

2 647 BATTOCLETTI Nadia ITA 12 APR 2000 34:25

3 628 DONNELLY Abbie GBR 2 SEP 1996 34:42

Team Medals:

  • Great Britain & NI 18 
  • Spain 37         
  • Belgium 38

Irish Finishing Positions (Team 8th) : 

  • Fionnuala McCormack (Kilcoole AC) 4th
  • Fionnuala Ross (Armagh AC) 30th
  • Fiona Everard (Bandon AC) 34th
  • Mary Mulhare (Portlaoise AC) 39th
  • Eilish Flanagan (Finn Valley AC) 44th
  • Roisin Flanagan (Finn Valley AC) 49th

Senior Men Race

Individual Medals:

1 132 SCHRUB Yann FRA 20 MAR 1996 30:17

2 188 MYHRE Magnus Tuv NOR 15 JUN 2000 30:20

3 108 HENDRIX Robin BEL 14 JAN 1995 30:22

Team Medals:

  • Belgium 20     
  • France 26       
  • Norway 32

Irish Finishing Positions (Team 4th): 

  • Cormac Dalton (Mullingar Harriers) 8th
  • Keelan Kilrehill (Mov Valley AC) 17th
  • Hugh Armstrong (Ballina AC) 20th
  • Brian Fay (Raheny Shamrock) 22nd
  • Kevin Mulcaire (Ennis Track Club) 37th
  • Fearghal Curtin (Youghal AC) 51st

Full Results: HERE

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