European silver medallist Ciara Mageean heads an Irish squad stacked with Olympic and European championship experience for the 28th edition of the SPAR European Cross Country Championships which takes place at La Mandria Park, on the outskirts of Turin, on 11 December.
Mageean (City of Lisburn AC), who was named Athlete of the Year at the 123.ie National Athletics Awards, is joined in the squad by fellow Olympians Michelle Finn (Leevale AC), Andrew Coscoran (Star of the Sea AC), Nadia Power (Dublin City Harriers) and Sunday's 123.ie National Senior Cross Country champion Sarah Healy (UCD AC).
Last year’s European cross country silver medallist (Under-23), Darragh McElhinney, will spearhead a strong looking U23 team following his superb performance at nationals at the weekend, which saw the Cork athlete claim his first senior cross country title.
The Glengarrif star will line up alongside fellow European cross country medallist Efrem Gidey (U20 bronze in 2019), as well as Keelan Kilrehill (Moy Valley) and Jamie Battle (Mullingar Harriers) who were both part of last year’s U23 gold-medal-winning team at Fingal-Dublin 2021.
This year’s squad also includes two of last year’s U20 silver-medal-winning team members in Nick Griggs (Mid Ulster AC) and Dean Casey (Ennis Track) who will lead out yet another strong looking Irish U20 team.
The senior women’s team will see Ann Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC), Roisin Flanagan (Finn Valley AC), Mary Mulhare (Portlaoise AC), and Aoibhe Richardson (Kilkenny City Harriers) join Mageean and Finn in what looks a stacked senior race where Ireland will look to better last year’s agonising 4th place finish.
The senior men’s team also came close to medalling in 2021 (four points off bronze) and they will look to the in-form Brian Fay (Raheny Shamrock) to provide yet another of his now trademark gritty displays in his bid for another European top-10 finish.
Hiko Tonosa Haso (Dundrum South Dublin) looked backed to his best at nationals on Sunday and the experienced duo can expect plenty of back-up from the quality quartet of Peter Lynch (Kilkenny City Harriers), Pierre Murchan (Dublin City Harriers), Cormac Dalton (Mullingar Harriers), and Irish indoor 5,000m record holder Barry Keane (Waterford AC) who all look to be peaking at the right time.
The women’s U23 won’t be found lacking for championships experience with Danielle Donegan (UCD AC), Laura Mooney (Tullamore Harriers), Aoife Ó'Cuill (St Coca’s AC), and Jodie McCann (Dublin City Harriers) sure to work together in a bid to back up an attempt from Healy to better her excellent fifth place finish from Dublin last December. Niamh O'Mahoney (An Ríocht AC) makes her championship debut following an excellent 2022 season.