Fionnuala McCormack (Kilcoole) hailed "a great day for the family and the club" after she won and her sister Una was third in the 8km race at the Irish Life Health National Cross Country Championships in Abbotstown today.
There was an equally proud and emotional moment for Liam Brady (Tullamore Harriers) as he won the senior men’s 10km crown in a mud fest on the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus.
McCormack hit the front early on and turned on the class to win in 28:41 from Mary Mulhare (Portlaoise) in 30:22 and her sister, Una Britton, in 30:32.
It was a swift U-turn after the finish for McCormack to sprint back down the finishing straight (outside the course) and cheer on Una to a cherished bronze medal - her first senior cross country medal.
Michelle Finn finished fifth to lead Leevale home to defend their team title. Sorcha McAlister (Westport) worked through well to win the U23 race in 31:57.
In the U20 women’s 4,000m race, Jodie McCann (DCH) was a strong winner in 15:06 from Danielle Donegan (Tullamore Harriers) in 15:29 and Maeve Gallagher (Swinford) in 15:32. Waterford won the team title.
Sarah Healy (Blackrock) didn’t run in the end with a virus but didn’t take anything away from McCann’s smooth run. "I’m so happy," said McCann afterwards who sealed automatic selection for the European Cross Country Championships in Lisbon on 7 December.
The last race of the day was the senior men’s 10k and there was a good lead pack for the first half of the race until Brady pulled clear and held off Brian Fay (Raheny Shamrock), the first U23 athlete across the line, by five seconds in an exciting final lap. Sean Tobin (Clonmel) finished third in 33:05.
This was Brady’s first national senior title to add to U20 and U23 crowns. "I wanted it, I badly, badly wanted it," he said emotionally afterwards.
Brady credited his father, Kevin, for a stirring pre-race speech.
"He said ‘I’ll have an ambulance waiting for you at the end,’ said Brady who continued on "thankfully I didn’t need it."
Clonliffe Harriers brought back the senior men’s title to Morton Stadium to break Raheny’s dominance of the last three years.
In the U20 men's 6,000m race, Darragh McElhinney (UCD) defended his title in 19:36 from Keelan Kilrehill (Moy Valley) and Thomas McStay (Galway City Harriers). Clonliffe Harriers also won the U20 men’s team title.