Cragg must prove fitness in San Jose to win Irish spot

ALISTAIR CRAGG will get his place on the Irish senior men’s team for the SPAR European cross-country championships if he proves his fitness in tomorrow’s 5k road race in San Jose.

It was always expected the former European indoor 3,000m champion would be given a chance pending tomorrow’s event when he made himself available for selection.

“Alistair Cragg has expressed his desire to be part of the senior men’s team,” Patsy McGonagle, Chair of High Performance, said. “However Athletics Ireland will wait to evaluate his form at the San Jose 5k before making any decision on the final place on the senior men’s team.”

In the meantime, Michael Clohisey (Raheny Shamrock AC), a fast finishing fourth in the inter-counties on Sunday, will be waiting in the wings and, should Cragg not get the final nod, then he will be the choice for the event which Athletics Ireland host at Santry Park on December 13.

There were no surprises in the team announcement. Andrew Ledwith (Fr. Murphy’s) who was superb on Sunday will lead the charge, joined by second and third finishers, Sean Connolly (Tallaght AC) and Mark Kenneally (Clonliffe Harriers).

The two Mullingar Harriers who missed the inter-counties are included. Martin Fagan is still training up in Flagstaff while Mark Christie is recovering from a chest infection.

The poor showing by the Irish athletes at the NCAA championships in Indiana on Monday is reflected in the fact only David Rooney (Raheny Shamrock AC) is named in the Men’s U-23 team. The fact he was competing as an individual makes his 58th place in the race a big achievement.

David McCarthy (West Waterford AC) finished a disappointing 84th and, after consultation with his coach at Providence College Ray Treacy, was not considered, while Ciarán Ó Lionaird (Leevale), who finished 181 is named as first reserve.

Michael Mulhare (North Laois), sixth overall in winning the U-23 title on Sunday, leads the team which features the top five from Sunday’s championships along with Rooney.

Paralympic gold medallist Michael McKillop (St Malachy’s AC) will make history when he leads the junior men’s team, following in the footsteps of his paralympic team mate, Jason Smyth, who represented Ireland on the track this year.

Mary Cullen (Sligo AC) is Ireland’s big hope of a medal at and her performance on Sunday helped to highlight that fact. She will lead a senior women’s team that has been selected on the results of the inter-counties.

Sara Louise Treacy, who finished fifth overall on Sunday, will lead the women’s U-23 team. Breffni Twohig, who was 53rd in the NCAA’s on Monday, gets her place and is one of four DSD athletes in the team. Holly Knight (Finn Valley), however, has not recovered sufficiently from illness and will not be coming back from the US while Roseanne Galligan (Newbridge) who missed Sunday’s race is selected.

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