Sophie Duarte of France took the women’s European cross country crown in Belgrade today, while Ireland’s Fionnuala Britton finished fourth.

Britain’s Gemma Steel took second after a tough battle to the line with Ana Dulce Félix of Portugal in the Serbian capital.

Britton, who was chasing an unprecedented third European cross country title in a row, battled hard to stay with the leading pack throughout, and while she briefly threatened for third, the Wicklow woman had to settle for fourth place.

The Irish women's team were unable to retain their title and finished in sixth position overall. 

Meanwhile Spain's Alemayehu Bezabeh won gold in the men's event, finishing ahead of second-placed Arikan of Turkey and Britain's Andy Vernon in third.

The Irish men's team finished in sixth place overall.

Michael Mulhare was best-placed runner coming home in 15th place while David McCarthy was 18th and Paul Pollock finished in 26th spot with Dan, brother of Michael, in 31st place.

Earlier in the day the men's under-23 team finished in a commendable fourth place with 120 points after being in third place throughout the race but then faded to fourth in the last lap.

Paul Robinson lead the team home putting in a stellar performance to work his way through the field to finish in ninth place.

In the junior men's 6k race, Sean Tobin ran strongly throughout to finish in ninth place leading the team to a ninth place overall improving on their 18th place from last year, while the junior women's team finished in 13th place.

Siofra Cleirigh Buttner was the highest placed Irish athlete in 37th position.