NI quintet raring to play their part in Irish team's European challenge
A record five Northern Ireland athletes will feature in the 27 strong Irish team for this weekend's European Cross Country Championships in Samorin, Slovakia.
Rio Olympians Paul Pollock and Kerry O'Flaherty will be key participants in their Senior events while Armagh's Fionnuala Ross plus Junior athletes Craig McMeechan and James Edgar will also be doing their best to support their Irish team colleagues against the best in Europe.
Holywood doctor Pollock (31) is aiming for a top 10 finish particularly following his emphatic victory in the recent Irish Trials.
He is fully fit again following injury and is full of confidence after his PBs this year in the marathon and a 10k road race last month where he beat British Cross Trials winner Ben Connor.
O'Flaherty is no stranger to European cross country and will be hoping to repeat her good form which saw her finish second in the trials behind Shona Heslip.
Ireland's Women's team has traditionally performed well in Europe with a number of rostrum places, mostly thanks to Kilkoole's Fionnuala McCormack who will be making a record 15th appearance. The twice previous winner will also have newcomer - and current Scottish Half Marathon champion - Ross in her team.
Junior athlete Meechan, from Bangor, produced a devastating finish in the Trials to ensure a surprise victory which caps a very successful year. The Irish Junior 3,000 metres champion will be ably supported by Lisburn's Edgar, who is the Irish 5,000 metres title holder.