ATHLETICS: Paul Pollock is top Irish men’s finisher at European Cross Country Championships

Fionnuala Britton
Fionnuala Britton

Paul Pollock was the leading Irish finisher in the senior men’s race at the European Cross Country Championships at Samokov, Bulgaria. The Annadale strider placed 23rd in red-hot company.

Pollock ran steadily as the leading athletes produced a furious pace. He gained steadily in the second half of the race and was unlucky not to make the top 20.

Brendan O’Neill and Kevin Batt followed Paul in 29th and 31st with Mick Clohissey in 44th completing the scorers as the Irish squad came sixth.

The senior ladies went even better taking the bronze medals.

It was the seventh time they had been on the rostrum since the Championship started in 1994.

Double European champion Fionnuala Britton made a tremendous bid being up with the leaders for most of the race as GB girls Kate Avery and Gemma Steel disputed top spot.

Fionnuala eventually faded to sixth but was well backed by Sara Tracey 12th, Michelle Finn 23rd and Strabane-based Ann Marie McGlynn 44th.

McGlynn, who was the team captain, said: “I am thrilled, I knew coming in that we had a chance and am just so delighted for the team.”

Gemma Steel, silver medallist last year, just got the better of Kate Avery to take the title with both having the same time.

Britain won the team contest from Spain with Ireland just taking bronze one point ahead of France.

Ryan McDermott was forced to drop out of the U23 race where Kevin Dooney in 18th was top scorer.

Orma Murray in 40th led the U23 women, Kevin Mulcaire in 33rd was top male junior while Annalee girl Clodagh O’Reilly came 66th in the junior women’s race.