Ireland won the Gold medal in today’s team event at the Spar European Cross Country championships in Albufeira on the Portuguese Algarve. Ireland, with four men in the top 20, pulled off a shock victory in
the team competition with 60 points, the country’s first team title in any category and first medal of any description since 2006.
Irish team placing (that counted) :
David McCarthy 11th 24.26
Brendan O’Neill 13th 24.47
Michael Mulhare 16th 24.53
David Rooney 20th 24.57
Our non scoring team members were:
John Coughlan 34th 25.14
Ciaran O’Lionaird 76th 26.12
Great credit too to the latter duo who gave their all and especially to O’Lionaird who though struggling through battled to the end albeit his efforts resulted in him missing most of the team celebrations as he was in the in the medical centre,receiving oxygen to help him recover.
Favourites France finished 2nd well behind Ireland on 78 points with Spain 3rd on 79. The much fancied GB and Northern Ireland team finished 4th on 104 points
In the Individual event, the preview of this race had the headline, “Chahdi and Carvalho bid for another French victory” and that proved to be prophetic, as did the words of French federation head cross country coach Philippe Dupont last week.
“Hassan Chahdi and Florian Carvalho were second and fourth respectively last year in the under 23 men’s race and have a very good chance of fighting for the individual title again,” said Dupont.
In the end, it was Chahdi who prevailed over his compatriot in the thrilling battle over the last lap as they took the gold and silver medals respectively.
Irish officials said later that they had come to the Championships with high hopes of a medal but a gold was beyond their expectations, although they were undeservedly under-rated as several of their squad
had been posting good performances in US college competitions in recent months.
The team were ecstatic at the presentation of medals and must surely have sang Amhran na bhFiann louder than any other previous medal winner.