Fionnuala Britton led Ireland women’s team to bronze at today’s European cross country championships in Samokova, Bulgaria.
Britton finished in sixth place overall, just falling back from a medal charge over the final lap.
Britton sixth, Sara Treacy 12th, Michelle Finn 23rd and Ann Marie McGlynn 46th gave Ireland 87 points, just one point clear of France.
The team event saw Great Britain take gold with Spain taking silver and Ireland claiming their first bronze medal in an event they won in 2012.
“Going into the last lap, the first two girls where away and I was thinking, fight for that third place as if it’s a medal,” admitted Britton.
“I just wanted to catch Sophie Duarte” admitted Britton. “I still didn’t manage to catch her which is so frustrating” added Britton with Sweden Mefaf Bahta taking bronze and Belgium Almensch Blete pushing Britton to sixth.
“I’m just glad that the last two runners didn’t matter and we still got our hands on the bronze medal that really lifts the joy” Britton added.
It was a long wait for the Irish with France’s fourth scorer coming home in 30th place, some 16 places ahead of Ann Marie McGlynn, Ireland’s fourth scorer.
“This was a team of real cross country runners,” explained Britton. “Teams come here and some girls, see the mud and the course and just say this is not for us”.
“I always had confidence in this team, We spoke about how maybe positions one and two might be out of our reach, but there was a medal for us.
“A medal is a medal, but a team medal is just special,” added Britton.
Irish captain 33 year Anne Marie McGlynn was overcome with emotion having secured a championship medal on her European cross country debut.
“I really can’t believe this” smiled McGlynn. “I really thought we could get a bronze if we packed together and if Michelle Finn stayed up high.”
“I really wanted to be on the team, to captain my country is such an honour, I think I might go back into retirement.” Added McGlynn.
Else were Ireland battled in tough conditions at the 21st European cross country, held at altitude in the Bulgarian ski resort.
Annadale Striders Paul Pollock was the best of the Irish men finishing in 22nd position in race that was dominated by Turkey’s African born athletes.
The Irish men’s team of Pollock, Brendan O’Neill, Mick Clohisey and Kevin Batt finished in sixth place behind the victorious Turks with Spain and Italy taking Silver and bronze.
Kevin Dooney was the best of the underage Irish competing. Dooney took 18th place in the men’s under 23’s.
How the Irish fared;
Hope Saunders – 35th
Rhonda Pierce – 43rd
Isabel Carron – 52nd
Orlaith Moynihan – 62nd
Sarah Fitzparick – 74th
Kevin Mulcaire – 33th
David Harper – 34th
Jack O’Leary – 61st
Con Doherty – 73rd
Rick Nally – 84th
Brendan O’Connor – 85
Orna Murray – 40th
Shona Heaslip – 42nd
Maria O’Sullivan – 49th
Mary Mulare – 55th
Rachel Smyth – 56th
Ellie Hartnett – 58th
Kevin Dooney – 18th
Liam Brady – 26th
Brandon Hargreaves – 40th
Conor Duffy – 59th
Dara Cheeser – 61st
Ryan McDermott – DNF
Fionnuala Britton – 6th
Sara Treacy – 12th
Michelle Finn – 23rd
Annmarie McGlynn – 46th
Siobhan O’Doherty – 47th
Laura Crowe – 53rd
Paul Pollock 23rd
Brendan O’Neill – 29th
Kevin Batt – 31st
Mick Clohisey – 44th
Conor Dooney – 51st
Mark Hanrahan – 53rd