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Ciara and Kerry help Irish women to sixth

By Brian Hill

Portaferry's Ciara Mageean and Newcastle's Kerry O'Flaherty were key members of the Irish Women's team which finished a commendable sixth in yesterday's European Cross Country Championships in Chia, Italy.

The event was controversially won by Turkey who fielded two former Kenyan athletes, Can and Akda who left the rest of the field struggling from the start of the 6k event. The chasing bunch included twice previous winner Fionnualla McCormack who was trying to secure bronze.

The 32-year-old Irish woman made several attempts to break clear but in a sprint finish had to eventually settle for fifth place only two seconds behind 3third finisher Karoline Grovdal of Norway. Fionnualla was, however, just ahead of first GB finisher Stef Twell who led her team to silver behind Turkey. Can took individual gold.

Track Olympian Mageean was making her first appearance in the Euros in six years. She held her own over the fast course for most of the race but fell away at the finish to cross the line in 31st place with team-mate Michelle Finn 33rd and O'Flaherty 54th for a team total of 123 points.

In the Men's 10k event, Annadale's Paul Pollock improved substantially from his fifth placing in the Trials to be once again first Irishman across the line in 36th place. He was followed by fellow Olympian Mick Clohissey (42nd), Trials winner Mark Christie (56th) and Liam Brady (62nd).

Turkey's Aras Kaya took individual gold with GB's Calum Hawkins securing bronze. Ireland's Jack O'Leary excelled in the U20 race with a superb sixth.

Belfast Telegraph

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