David McCarthy has revealed that winning team gold at the European Cross County felt even better than securing an individual honour.
McCarthy was the leading finisher in the 8km race despite a stomach problem as the Ireland Under-23 men's team of David McCarthy, Brendan O'Neill, Michael Mulhare, David Rooney, John Coghlan and Ciaran O'Lionaird saw off the challenge of France and Spain to claim an historic gold medal.
But Ireland finished tightly packed, with McCarthy 11th and O'Neill, Mulhare and Rooney all inside the top-20. That put them 18 points ahead of next best nation France, with Spain in third and Great Britain fourth.
Speaking on Morning Ireland, United States-based runner McCarthy told Des Cahill that the team had felt something special was in the offing the night before the race.
He said: ‘There was a mood in the team that was different to every other year. Without getting ahead of ourselves, we just felt confident the night before. We felt it was going to happen.
‘We felt more like clubmates than anything else. We had been racing eachother for years – since the age of 10 – and we are a great group of friends as well.'
Team spirit and support from the crowd had also played a role in keeping the individual athletes going during a difficult last lap.
McCarthy added: 'Any second, third of fourth would not have compared with the team result. That last lap, I felt like I was dying and I looked behind to see every one of my team mates behind me and it just kept me going. The crowd wouldn’t let me give up. It was just amazing.'
O’Neill also felt a confidence in the team in the lead-up to the event.
He said: ‘We always knew in the weeks leading up to it that we were thereabouts. To be honest, I was flat out the whole way. I didn’t have a clue where we were. I could hear everyone screaming at me. I crossed the line and I couldn’t believe we had won.
'It was just unbelievable – it’s a feeling that can’t be matched.’