OLYMPIANS, MUNICH MEDALLIST, AND DEFENDING CHAMPIONS TO DESCEND UPON DONEGAL
OLYMPIANS, MUNICH MEDALLIST, AND DEFENDING CHAMPIONS TO DESCEND UPON DONEGAL FOR THE 2022 123.ie NATIONAL CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS
Irish athletics fans will descend upon Donegal this Sunday (Nov 20th) for what promises to be a stellar weekend of athletics action as Ireland’s best cross-country athletes take to Rosapenna Hotel and Golf Resort in pursuit of national glory and European selection at the 123.ie National Senior, Junior and Juvenile Even Age Cross Country Championships.
It will be the first time the senior cross country championships have been hosted in Donegal since 1999 and those coveted podium places will be as sought-after as ever with the first three home in each of the senior, U23, and U20 races securing their place on the Irish team set to compete at the European Cross Country Championships in Turin, Italy on December 11th. European selection policy is HERE.
It looks ultra-competitive across the full schedule of competition and the 2022 edition of the 123.ie National Cross Country Championships could throw up some surprises, although many eyes will be on those who performed cross country heroics for Ireland at Fingal-Dublin 2021 last December.
Last year’s champions Michelle Finn (Leevale AC), Hiko Tonosa Haso (DSD AC), Darragh McElhinney (UCD AC), and Sarah Healy (UCD AC) are all set to return to defend their respective senior and U23 titles.
There will be no shortage of support for the local athletes and all eyes will be on the Letterkenny senior women’s team as they bid to retain the club championships title at 13.45pm. The race will also see European and Commonwealth Games silver medallist Ciara Mageean return to domestic action following her remarkable season on the track.
The action on Sunday will get underway with the U12 girls at 11:30 am (full timetable HERE) building to a crescendo with senior women’s 8,000m and senior men’s 10,000m at 13:45 and 14:25 respectively.
New to this year’s cross country championships, Athletics Ireland and hosts Cranford AC are delighted to announce that the event will be shown live via a multi-camera stream on the Athletics Ireland YouTube channel for the first time ever.
FLYIN FINN OUT TO RETAIN TITLE
The senior women’s race looks arguably the most competitive national cross country field in recent years. Michelle Finn (Leevale AC) continued with her season following her European final appearance in Munich (3,000mSC) and has since gone on to take the Great Scottish Half Marathon title back in Oct (1:12:33). The 2021 champion is sure to face stiff opposition in her bid to go back-to-back.
Finn will join Ciara Mageean (City of Lisburn AC) on the start line and the Portaferry star will fear no one given her exploits over the summer months. Aoibhe Richardson (Kilkenny City Harriers) returns from the states and will have eyes firmly on one of those top 3 positions. Fionnula Ross (Armagh AC) ran a superb race at the Autumn Open last month, citing a desire for ‘more rain and mud’ in her post-race interview, conditions which the European cross country silver medallist (2019 team) thrives in.
Ross is unlikely to get the desired muddy condition in Rosapenna, with a fast and undulating course set to await athletes. Ann Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC) is sure to know what to expect more than most and the Letterkenny star will have plenty of support as she leads out the 2021 national champions once more. Shona Heaslip (An Riocht) is one who could thrive in the fast conditions as she looks to make the journey to the northwest all the more worthwhile.
Olympian Sarah Healy (UCD AC) will look to show her class in the U23 division but there will be plenty of competition for the podium places. Aoife O’Cuill (St Cocas AC) and Danielle Donegan (UCD AC) will both have sights set on securing an automatic place on the European team.
The U20 race is likely to see the recent Autumn Open (U20) champion Avril Millerick (Youghal AC) in the mix alongside the impressive Rebecca Rossiter and Nicole Dinan (Leevale AC). Dinan’s clubmate Anika Tompson (Leevale AC) has made the trip from Oregon and looks one to keep as close eye on as the race unfolds. Clare’s Louise O’Mahony (BMOH AC) won the Munster Cross Country title in impressive style last month and will be in contention if building on that performance.
HASO AND MCELHINNEY TO RENEW RIVALRY
The 2021 men’s race provided one of the races of season with Hiko Tonosa Haso (DSD AC) eventually getting the better of UCD’s Darragh McElhinney in an enthrallingly tactical race. Haso is back to defend his crown and the expected fast underfoot conditions won’t dampen his chances. The DSD star comes into the weekend looking sharp following a 13.47 5k in Romania last week.
Darragh McElhinney (UCD AC) has looked imperious this season, returning from a break following the European 5,000m final in Munich to claim the Autumn Open International title in some style. Still U23, McElhinney is sure to be in contention for senior honours too. McElhinney’s Donegal connection will ensure the European Cross Country silver medallist (U23 Individual) will not be found wanting for support on the run for home.
Another of the U23 brigade who can’t be ruled out of senior contention is Efrem Gidey of Clonliffe Harriers who has been making up for lost time during the 2022 season following a disrupted 2021.
Gidey may not have won a European medal in Munich back in August, but his result was one of the standout performances from an Irish perspective at the championships. The 21-year-old, who was in medal contention until the last 500 meters, finished sixth in the 10,000m in a time of 27.59.22.
Emmet Jennings (DSD AC) joins Hiko Tonosa Haso on the startline as DSD look to defend their senior club title. Jennings is another who thrives in the mud but has the experience to ensure he’ll be right there heading into the final lap. Pierre Murchan (DCH AC), John Travers (Donore Harriers), and Peter Lynch (Kilkenny City Harriers) look to be peaking at the perfect time and are not to be ruled out of contention for a top 3 finish.
Away from McElhinney and Gidey, the U23 field is filled with quality athletes and it’s going to be hard to call who will eventually fill the top 3 places. McElhinney’s training partner Keelen Kilrehill (Moyvalley AC) was part of THAT gold medal winning team from last year’s European Cross Country Championships and will be on the heels of the leading group from the gun. Thomas McStay (Galway City Harriers) won’t be lacking any motivation come Sunday in his pursuit of a podium finish, while Shane Coffey (Naas AC) is one who could split the likely favourites.
There is also no shortage of talent in the men’s junior race with some of the most exciting prospects in Irish athletics set to battle it out once more. Nick Griggs (Mid Ulster AC) will be back in action as he sets out to defend his 2021 title. Griggs will be pushed all the way by some of his silver-medal-winning teammates from last year’s European Cross Country Championships, including the ever impressive Dean Casey (Ennis Track Club) and Scott Fagan (Metro St Brigids AC).
Local favourite Sean McGinley (Finn Valley AC) claimed first place in the junior race at the Autumn Open on Oct 16th and spoke in his post-race interview of the desire to take the next step. McGinley made no secret that this weekend was his target and those in attendance can expect a roaring reception should he be in contention coming into the final few bends on Sunday.
There is sure to be plenty of drama across the schedule and it promises to be a thrilling day of action at the ‘coastal cross’ in Rosapenna Golf Resort for the 123.ie National Senior, Junior and Juvenile Even Age Cross Country Championships.
- Entries: Click HERE
- Timetable: Click HERE
- Tickets: Click HERE (Please purchase tickets online as there will be no cash or card entry on the day). U16s go free and do not require a ticket. Queries can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Parking Information: Click HERE
- Live Stream: HERE
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