Danielle Donegan, left, after finishing third in the national U-23 cross country championship with the winner Sarah Healy and second placed Aoife O'Cuill.
THERE was great satisfaction for two Offaly athletes on Monday afternoon when they were selected on the Irish team for the forthcoming European Cross Country Championships.
Tullamore woman Danielle Donegan and Cappincur's Laura Mooney have made the Irish womens' U-23 and U-20 teams.
Donegan was an automatic selection for the U-23 team after a superb performance in the National Senior and U-23 Cross Country Championships in Santry on Sunday. A long time Tullamore Harriers member but racing in the colours of UCD, where she is on an athletics scholarship, Donegan ran a superbly steady race, pacing herself well for the 8k distance, moving up the field at every opportunity and finishing third in the U-23 grade in 28.59 – she was 18th overall.
Laura Mooney's superb form in the USA was rewarded with selection on the U-20 team. Mooney is on an athletics scholarship in Providence College in Rhode Island and has made tremendous progress this season, excelling in both track and cross country events.
Both Donegan and Mooney have been products of the excellent juvenile section at Tullamore Harriers and are now thriving as they enter into adult ranks.
The championships take place in Abbotstown, Dublin on December 12 and another Tullamore man, John Cronin, the President of Athletics Ireland, is playing a pivotal role in organising the event.
Sarah Healy (UCD AC) will lead the charge for U23 team and will be joined by Aoife O'Cuill (St Coca’s AC), Danielle Donegan (UCD AC), Ruth Heery (Waterford AC), and Dublin City Harriers pair Lauren Tinkler (Dublin City Harriers AC) and Jodie McCann (Dublin City Harriers AC).
Jane Buckley (Leevale AC) was first to claim one of the automatic selection places for Fingal-Dublin 2021 and she will be joined in the women’s U20 team by Emma McEvoy (Dundrum South Dublin), Rebecca Rossiter (Loughview AC), Laura Mooney (Tullamore Harriers AC), Aoife McGreevy (UCD AC), and Róise Roberts (North Belfast Harriers AC).
Mucklagh native Ann Marie McGlynn (nee Larkin) just missed out on selection after a powerful finish saw her finished sixth in the senior womens race. With an U-23, Sarah Healy ahead in second place behind the winner Michelle Finn, McGlynn came into contention for one of the six places on the Irish senior team but the six named on Monday afternoon were: Michelle Finn (Leevale AC), Roisin Flanagan (Finn Valley A), Aoibhe Richardson (Kilkenny City Harriers), Aoife Cooke (Eagle AC), Fionnuala McCormack (Kilcoole AC), Eilish Flanagan (Finn Valley AC).
There was plenty of consolation for McGlynn, who has previously represented Ireland in these championships, as she led Letterkenny and Donegal to the team gold medals. Fionnuala McCormack didn't compete but was always going to be an automatic selection while another Tokyo Olympian Eilish Flanagan also made the cut.
The senior men’s team will include Hiko Tonosa (Dundrum South Dublin) who looked ultra-smooth in taking the men’s national cross country title. Tonsa will be joined by clubmates Paul O'Donnell (Dundrum South Dublin) and Emmet Jennings (Dundrum South Dublin), adding further celebration for DSD who claimed the national club title on Sunday.
Ryan Forsyth (Newcastle and District A.C.) will offer previous European cross country experience, while the pair of Brian Fay (Raheny Shamrock AC) and Cormac Dalton (Mullingar Harriers AC) will return from action stateside following superb performances at the NCAAs.
The men’s U23 team includes a regular visitor to Tullamore, Cork man Darragh McElhinney (UCD AC), and the Bandon athlete will be joined by Keelan Kilrehill (Moyvalley AC), Thomas McStay (Galway City Harriers), Micheal Power (West Waterford AC), Thomas Devaney (Castlebar AC), and Donal Devane (Ennis Track AC). McElhinney finished second in the senior mens' race on Sunday, just three seconds behind Hiko Tonosa.
The men’s U20 team looks particularly strong and boasts two recent European U20 gold medallists over 3000m and 1500m in Nicholas Griggs (Mid Ulster A.C.) and Cian McPhillips (UCD AC).
They will be joined by Abdel Laadjel (Donore Harriers) who returns from action stateside as well as Dean Casey (Ennis Track AC), Scott Fagan (Metro/St. Brigid's AC), and Sean Kay (Clonliffe Harriers AC) who all performed superbly in national championship competition over the weekend.
The mixed relay team will have no shortage of experience with Andrew Coscoran (Star of the Sea), Ciara Mageean (City of Lisburn AC), Luke McCann (UCD AC), and Siofra Cleirigh Buttner (Dundrum South Dublin) completing a talented team.
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