Belfast Telegraph

Ross and Bradley eyeing Irish glory in bid to secure a European ticket

Big hope: Fionniala Ross is out to qualify in the senior 8k
Big hope: Fionniala Ross is out to qualify in the senior 8k

By Brian Hill

Fionnuala Ross and Conor Bradley are the major Northern Ireland hopes in tomorrow's Irish Life Senior Cross Country Championships at Abbotstown, Dublin.

Places on the Irish team that will be racing in the European Cross Country Championships in Lisbon, Portugal in two weeks' time are at stake.

Ross competed in the European Championships a year ago in Holland after finishing third behind Ciara Mageean in the trials. She is hotly tipped to qualify again in the senior 8k event after some impressive performances over the past 12 months, including an inaugural marathon time in Berlin of two hours, 47 minutes and a Scottish 10,000m title.

In the Dundonald International two weeks ago, the Scotland-based Shettleston AC athlete defied the horrendous weather conditions for an impressive third position behind winner Michelle Finn, the Rio Olympics steeplechase ace.

This performance will play in her favour tomorrow, with underfoot conditions in Dublin once again very heavy.

Ross is keen to compete in Portugal, though her objective next year is to lower her marathon time significantly.

Finn (29) is also racing and should qualify for her sixth Europeans before concentrating on gaining the steeplechase qualification time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

City of Derry Spartans athlete Bradley will hope to make the cut for the men's team in the 10k. He will have received a boost from his emphatic win at the same venue in the recent Spar International Cross Country.

His confidence will have been furthered enhanced by his impressive fourth-place finish at Dundonald in conditions which did not favour the essentially track-based runner.

In that context, Bradley has made great progress this year, particularly over 5,000m where he broke 14 minutes in the Morton Games in August.

The women's 8k is at 1.45pm and the men's 10k at 2.25pm.

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