The missing ingredient of ‘head to head’ confrontation in sport reappeared in abundance at the National Cross Country Championships on Sunday in Santry in a titanic battle between the competitors for places on the Irish teams for the European Championships.
This erupted from the gun in the senior men’s race, with the main protagonists forging to the front in the battle for supremacy. Favourites Hiko Tonosa (DSD) and Darragh McElhinney (UCD) were joined by Paul O’Donnell and Emmet Jennings (both DSD).
At-half way Paul O’Donnell decided to test the opposition as he surged to the front, followed through by Hiko and Darragh, with Emmet Jennings hanging on for dear life.
It was now strictly a four-man contest, with only three being guaranteed automatic qualification for the Europeans.
At this stage Darragh and Hiko pushed to the front with Paul and Emmet striving to keep the gap down.
Darragh, recent winner of the Autumn Open, and Hiko double winner 5,000m/10,000m National Track Championships, were locked in battle, with the finish line in sight. With 300m to go Hiko’s high tempo changed to a sprint, which carried him to a great victory, and ensured he would lead the Irish team at the European Championships in Abbotstown in December.
O’Donnell finished strongly for the bronze, with Emmet Jennings producing the run of his life in fourth.
He will be disappointed if this stellar display does not gain him selection to join his DSD team-mates in the green vest of Ireland for a first time, at the upcoming prestigious championships.
Rounding off a magnificent team performance for DSD was Matt Bergin in 15th place, Killian Mooney in 39th and Rob Corbally 74th.
Meanwhile, Meghan Ryan just missed out on a place in the Women’s Team, as she finished 12th over 6,000m.
Emma McEvoy, a recent convert from swimming, astounded the running fraternity with an impressive front running display to lead the Junior Women’s race, only to give way over the last 100m, for second place in the Junior race and taking 1st place U.18 Championships. She will qualify for Junior category for two more years.
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