Fionnuala McCormack is confident Ireland's cross country team can emulate their bronze medal at the European Cross Country Championships in Samokov, Bulgaria last year as they gear up for this year's event in Hyeres, France on 13 December.
McCormack (neé Britton), who impressed in victory at the GloHealth Inter Clubs Championships in Santry Demesne on Sunday, will lead the Irish women's team and said: "We definitely have a good chance with the team. I'm going to go out there and do my absolute best. We backed up our [team] gold in 2012 with bronze [last year].
"This women's team is going to be strong for the next few years. The team is the most realistic [chance of a medal] but I'm going to go out there and do my best as well."
High Performance Director Kevin Ankrom said: "We need her [Fionnuala] to be out there and put on a good performance. It leads to fewer points and a good team performance for us.
"Athletes are planning more to make an effort to be on this team. We've got four medals in four years. Let's make it five medals in five years.
"I still think cross country and distance running is the cornerstone of the Irish culture"
"Overall as a cross country programme we would have an expectation that our teams perform better and we are certainly working towards making our teams to prepare to do that.
"Through Steven Macklin, Paul McNamara and Teresa McDaid we are looking to help people prepare for championships. We have to have expectations that our teams are going to perform better and be better prepared.
"I still think cross country and distance running is the cornerstone of the Irish culture. I look forward to the athletes performing at their best."
The senior men's team will be led out by Mick Clohisey (Raheny Shamrock) who won the 10,000m at the championships yesterday for the third time in succession.
"We are going in with a squad of endurance specialists who are laying the foundation for the Olympic team," said Ankrom with regards to Clohisey along with Sergiu Ciobanu (Clonliffe Harriers) and Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) who have all posted Olympic marathon qualifying times. "John Coghlan (MSB) posted a particularly impressive performance also and shows athletes are stepping up to the mark."
Hope Saunders (Clonliffe Harriers) and Kevin Mulcaire (Ennis Track Club) are returning with experience to this year's championships and Kevin Ankrom believes Mulcaire is a top 8 candidate.
Athletics Ireland are awaiting confirmation from athletes in the University in the USA. When that's confirmed those athletes names will be released.
Men's senior team: Mick Clohisey [Raheny Shamrock AC], John Coghlan [Metro St Brigids AC], Paul Pollock [Annadale Striders AC], Ryan Creech [Leevale AC], Joe Sweeney [Dundrum South Dublin AC], Sergiu Ciobanu [Clonliffe Harriers AC]
Women's senior team: Fionnuala McCormack [Kilcoole AC], Lizzie Lee [Leevale AC], Caroline Crowley [Crusaders AC], Kerry O'Flaherty [Newcastle & District AC], Ciara Durkan [Skerries AC], Michelle Finn [Leevale AC]
Men’s U23 team: Thomas Moran (Dunshaughlin), Brandon Hargreaves (Clonliffe Harriers), Hugh Armstrong (Ballina), Keith Fallon (GCH), Sean Tobin (Clonmel), Aaron Hanlon (Clonliffe Harriers)
Women’s U23 team: Shona Heaslip (An Riocht), Emma Mitchell (Banbridge)
Men's junior team: Kevin Mulcaire [Ennis track AC], Peter Lynch [Kilkenny City Harriers AC], Jack O’Leary [Mullingar Harriers AC], Cathal Doyle, James Edgar [City of Lisburn AC], Pierre Murchan [Celtic AC],
Women's junior team: Hope Saunders [Clonliffe Harriers AC], Aoibhe Richardson [Kilkenny City Harriers AC], Isabel Carron [Skerries AC], Deirdre Healy [Ratoath AC], Nadia Power [Templeogue AC], Sophie Murphy [Dundrum South Dublin AC]