European Cross Country: Irish will hope for individual and team medals in Chia
|European Cross Country Championships|
|Date: Sunday, 11 December Venue: Chia, Sardinia|
|Coverage: Watch live on BBC Red Button, the BBC Sport website and the BBC Sport app from 09:10-13:00 GMT. Watch highlights on BBC Two from 15:50-16:50.|
County Down athletes Ciara Mageean and Kerry O'Flaherty will have high hopes of helping Ireland land another women's team medal at the European Cross Country Championships in Sardinia.
Twice champion Fionnuala McCormack is fancied to regain the individual title which she won in 2011 and 2012.
O'Flaherty and Mageean will hope to pack well in the team battle in Chia.
Holywood man Paul Pollock will also aim for an improved run from his fifth spot at last month's nationals in Dublin.
Pollock competed at Abbotstown after racing in a half marathon in India the previous weekend but should perform better in his first appearance in an Irish vest since his impressive 32nd place at the Olympic Marathon in Rio.
However, Irish medal interest is likely to be focused on the women's event.
McCormack's rivals in the individual race include Turkey's European 10,000m champion Yasemin Can and Norway's Karoline Grovdal, who pipped the Irishwoman for bronze at last year's championship in Hyeres.
Britain's 2014 winner Gemma Steel is likely to be another contender as may another Turkish competitor Meryem Akda.
McCormack's individual triumph in 2012 also helped Ireland land the team honours that year in Hungary and the Irish women have earned team bronze over the past two years.
McCormack, O'Flaherty and Michelle Finn all return after being part of last year's successful squad as they join surprise Irish champion Shona Heaslip, Mageean and Laura Crowe.
O'Flaherty and Mageean booked their spots in Chia on 11 December by finishing second and third at the the Irish Championships when McCormack missed the race as she was instead winning at the IAAF permit meeting in Alcobendas in Spain.
IRELAND TEAM FOR EUROPEAN CROSS COUNTRY
Senior Men: Mark Christie (Mullingar), Mick Clohisey (Raheny), Mark Hanrahan (Leevale), Liam Brady (Tullamore Harriers), Paul Pollock (Annadale), Kevin Dooney (Raheny)
Senior Women: Shona Heaslip (An Riocht), Kerry O'Flaherty (Newcastle), Ciara Mageean (UCD), Fionnuala McCormack (Kilcoole), Laura Crowe (An Riocht), Michelle Finn (Leevale)
U23 Men: Karl Fitzmaurice (Ennis), Mitchell Byrne (Rathfarnham)
U23 Women: Bethanie Murray (DSD), Amy O'Donoghue (Emerald)
Junior Men: Jack O'Leary (Mullingar), Peter Lynch (Kilkenny), Darragh McElhinney (Bantry), Fearghal Curtain (Youghal), Barry Keane (Waterford), Charlie O'Donovan (Leevale)
Junior Women: Sophie Murphy (DSD), Amy Rose Farrell (Blackrock), Emma O'Brien (Inbhear Dee/Sli Cualann), Carla Sweeney (WSAF), Jodie McCann (DSD), Aisling Joyce (Claremorris)