Ross toughs it out to clinch fifth in Stirling
Armagh's Fionnuala Ross produced an outstanding performance in the Home Countries Cross Country International at Stirling over the weekend, where she finished fifth in a high-quality Women's Senior event that included numerous UK internationals.
The Shettleston woman, who is based in Scotland, thrived in the gruelling mud and rain to again confirm the sort of form which gained her third place in similar conditions in the recent Dundonald International.
Scottish 10k champion Ross, who was a member of the silver medal-winning Irish team in the Europeans last month, plans to concentrate on the marathon this year to improve her PB time of two hours, 47 minutes.
North Down's Jessica Craig had another solid run to finish in 18th place with Bangor team-mate Katie Moore 32nd.
Under-23 athlete Sarah Kelly was 51st with Comber Cup winner Rebekah Nixon 60th.
The race was won by England's multi-European medallist Kate Avery with fellow Euro team gold medallist Abbie Donnelly 11 seconds back in second.
In the Men's Senior event, Banbridge's U23 athlete Patrick McNiff enjoyed his best ever run by beating his senior colleagues to finish an excellent 15th.
The Northern Ireland team finishers were Conor Duffy (22nd), Neil Johnston (24th) and a disappointed Zak Hanna (61st).
Just a year ago, McNiff had to settle for silver in the NI Intermediate Championships behind Hanna.
The victory went to Kristian Jones of Wales with Scotland's Olympian Andrew Butchart having to settle for third behind England's Inter-Counties champion Adam Hickey.
The first NI finisher in the U20 event was Conall McClean in 12th, just one second ahead of Tony McCambridge.
In the Women's U20 race there was good team packing by Hannah Gilliland (21st), Aoife McGreevy (23rd), Niamh Carr (24th) and Ella Quinn (27th) .
The best of the U17 boys were Sean McGinley in fourth and Callum Morgan in seventh, while in the girls' U17 Amy Greene was eighth and Kirsty Foster ninth.