Day 2 of World Cross Country Championships – Irish Shine

Some old-fashioned grit from Peter Mathews and Keith Kelly in particular earned the Irish men their best team placing for 16 years when finished eighth among the 27 competing nations in today’s World Cross-Country Championships in Ostend.  And if Matthews and Kelly laid the foundations when finishing 22nd and 24th respectively, they were supported in equally stout measure by Seamus Power (44th) and Vinny Mulvey (56th), both recording their finest placings yet.  Noel Berkeley and Leevale’s Cathal Lombard rounded out the team in 92nd and 102nd respectively.  A total of 159 runners completed the course.  Considering teams like Ethiopia (ninth), Algeria (10th) and Australia (12th) all finished behind Ireland, it was a hugely encouraging performance from the Irish team.  Great Britain could only manage 13th place and that was the first time they finished behind the Irish since they started competing as a United Kingdom team.  Kenya won their 16th successive team title, while the Moroccan-born Belgian, Mohammed Mourhit (No. 55 in photos) won the individual title.  The Irish junior men also did well, finishing 13th of the 25 nations, with Clonmel’s Patrick Guildera best in 43rd.  In the Women’s Long-Course, Sonia O’Sullivan had a disappointing run, finding nothing in her legs and eventually dropping out.  Enforcing her disappointment was the news of how well the other Irish had finished the 4km race. Anne Keenan-Buckley produced her best international performance by finishing in 20th place, followed closely home by equally courageous efforts from Maria McCambridge and Una English in 22nd and 31st place. O’Sullivan at her best would have almost certainly assured them of a team medal. Freda Davoran was the fourth scorer back in 79th place and the team still ended up sixth.  Gete Wami won the race, from Britain’s Paula Radcliffe, a reverse of the Long-Course placings. ( Championship Results)