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Ciara eyes European challenge after Cross Country title win

 

By Brian Hill

European 1,500 metres fourth placer Ciara Mageean demonstrated her versatility with a resounding victory in yesterday's Irish Senior Cross Country Championships at Abbotstown, Dublin.

The Portaferry woman will now spearhead the Irish team for the European Championships in Tilburg in two weeks' time .

Commonwealth Games athlete Mageean was one of a trio of Northern athletes who took the honours in a high quality 8k event. While Ciara was one of the favourites prior to the race, it was unclear whether she would take gold in view of her few appearances over the country.

Such doubts were quickly dispelled as she positioned herself among the early leaders along with Armagh's Fionnuala Ross and Letterkenny's Anne Marie McGlynn. Last year's runner up, Kerry O'Flaherty, was further back in sixth place.

Mageean made her move shortly after halfway when she opened a 10 metres gap on Scottish Half Marathon champion Ross. From then to the finish, a relaxed Ciara simply ensured she had a sufficient lead to guarantee victory.

Mageean crossed the line for her first ever Senior cross country title some 20 metres ahead of 38-year-old McGlynn who overtook Ross in the closing stages. Olympic steeplechaser Michelle Finn was fourth with O'Flaherty remaining in sixth .

Ciara said: "I am delighted with my first Senior title. It has been a good year for me concerning Irish titles. The team will now try for a medal in the Euros."

The Irish women traditionally do well in this event. Ciara was a member of the team which was sixth two years ago while McGlynn took a bronze team medal back in 2014.

City of Derry's Fintan Stewart was fourth in the Junior race while title holder Craig McMeechan of North Down was a rather disappointing 10th.

Colin McClean of St Malachy's took the U18 title.

British Masters champion Mark McKinstry was 15th in the Men's Senior event which was won by Raheny's Kevin Dooney.

Elsewhere, East Down's Neil McCartan and Dromore's Rebecca Nixon were victorious in the well supported Malcolm Cup races at Ballyclare.

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