The DSD junior team, left, with coaches Donal Hennigan and Eddie McDongah; Sophie Murphy, in grey on right, in the leading pack

DUNDRUM South Dublin’s athletes produced a series of superb runs to come extremely close to landing medals at the European Clubs Cross Country Championships in Albufeira, Portugal.
The junior women finished fourth in the team event while the senior women were sixth in their best ever performance on this elevated international stage.
For the junior side, Sophie Murphy (fifth), Abbie Taylor (13th) and Jodie McCann (17th) were all involved in the top ten battle of a classy field, for the first two laps.
Going out on the last lap, Murphy was in contention for the gold medal, as five athletes broke away, with Taylor about 20 metres back and McCann fighting grimly to hold on to the lead group.
In the second echelon, Grace Dervan (29th), Roseanne McCullough (31st) and Niamh Carey (40th) battled every step of the way to keep the team in contention.
Unfortunately, the rules allowed Turkey to have two teams in the competition, being the previous year’s winners, and they had the advantage of picking national squads to train together in Istanbul.
It gave them a big advantage over smaller clubs representing their national associations and, when the points were totalled, DSD were just beaten for the bronze.
They finished in fourth place ahead of teams from Finland, Lithuania, Belgium, Spain, Switzerland, Portugal, Germany and the Czech Republic.
And the performance gives hope that they can go even better in the future. Of the team, only Murphy is not qualified for the next two years and this young team can challenge for the top spot in Europe sooner rather than later.
In the senior women’s event, Olympian Maria McCambridge (26th) set a strong pace with Laura Shaughnessy (31st) in the top 20 while Sarah Mulligan (35th), Fiona Clinton (32nd) and Meghan Ryan (41st) strived with might and main half way down the field, knowing that every place counts for the final score.
McCambridge was as brave as a lion but could not match the top ten which contained a Kenyan-born winner and an Ethiopian in second place.
It is part of a controversial recent trend of European countries signing up African runners to become more competitive. This is the last time these teams will be allowed to sign up overseas athletes to boost their teams, as the ECCC has banned the practice indefinitely.
In ths US, meanwhile, Siofra Cleirigh Buttner produced a great one mile win in New York 4.33.16. The former Colaiste Iosagain student and DSD runner – now with Vilanova University on scholarship – achieved the time at the Fast Track, Ocean Breeze Track and Field Complex.
She heads up the collegiate mile listings for the year thanks to this latest personal best.


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