Jodie McCann crosses the finish line in first in the Under-20 women’s race. Picture: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

DUBLIN City Harriers’ Jodie McCann was a strong winner of the Under-20 women’s national cross country crown at a mud-ridden Abbotstown last weekend.

She finished in 15:06 from Danielle Donegan (Tullamore Harriers) in 15:29 and Maeve Gallagher (Swinford) in 15:32, the latter of whom initially stayed with McCann before being burned off in the tricky conditions.

McCann said of the win: “It was my plan to take it easy for the first kilometre and then try and push on and drop the girls from there on.

“It was tough but I am a real cross country runner. The idea was not to panic, knowing there were going to be some good girls in the first two laps. I had to wait and then hope my hard work would pay off.”

The success earned McCann a place in the Irish squad for the European cross country championships along with her brother Luke who is in the mixed relay team.

They will be joined by a number of other star showings from Dubliners at Abbotstown.

Raheny Shamrock’s Brian Fay took second place in the senior men’s race. He excelled in the second half to finish well clear of pre-race favourite Sean Tobin and take silver behind a brilliant cross country running performance from Tullamore Harriers Liam Brady.

Fay is still Under-23 and his second place secured the U-23 gold medal and posed a question to the Irish selectors on whether to include Fay in the senior or Under-23s; in the end, they plumped for the Under-23s.

Fay’s silver medal led the team home to bronze. They were without Conor Dooney while defending champion Kevin Dooney took the start line however had missed a very chunk of his pre-season training.

The gold medal, meanwhile, went to Clonliffe Harriers who recovered their “Holy Grail” after its three-year residency in Raheny, running their opponents into the ground with just 52 points to Dundrum South Dublin’s 88 and Raheny’s 125 in third.

There were magnificent performances from all of the men, led home in ninth place by Efrem Gidey.

Gidey is in his final stages of his junior career before turning senior on January 1st and the decision to forego the junior and race in the senior paid off in dividend.

He got himself into the lead pack from the off and, although tiring over the latter stages, he held on grimly to come home in the top ten.

Jayme Rossiter ran possibly his best ever cross country race, certainly his best ever national, to power home in 11th place, skipping over the mud.

Next in was Cathal Doyle in 14th place after another very strong run and the ever-reliable Colm Rooney with yet another magnificent National to be 4th scorer in 18th place.

Doyle will also represent Ireland in the Under-23 side; Dublin City Harriers’ Fian Sweeney is in the women’s Under-23s while Donore Harriers’ John Travers is another in the mixed relay.