European Cross Country: Ireland miss out on medals in Sardinia

Fionnuala McCormack said: 'I'll have to come back for a 15th time'
Fionnuala McCormack said: 'I'll have to come back for a 15th time'

Ireland's women athletes have missed out on the team medal they were hoping for at the European Cross Country Championships in Sardinia.

They finished sixth in Sunday's race while the men's team were 10th.

Fionnuala McCormack, individual champion in 2011 and 2012, was fifth in a race won by Turkey's 19-year-old Kenya-born Yasemin Can.

Portaferry's Ciara Mageean collapsed in exhaustion on the finish line in 31st place but quickly recovered.

The Irish women were in contention for a team bronze as Mageean and national champion Shona Heaslip were in 18th and 19th positions at the start of final lap but they were dropped out of contention on the final circuit.

Mageean struggled badly in the closing stages with Heaslip suffering a fall on the final lap as she eventually finished 59th.

Ciara Mageean on Twitter
Ciara Mageean's reaction to her 31st place in Sardinia

Michelle Finn was just behind Mageean in 33rd spot with Newcastle athlete Kerry O'Flaherty in 54th and Laura Crowe in 60th.

Kenya-born Turks also dominated the men's senior race, with Aras Kaya taking gold and Polat Kemboi Arikan silver ahead of Britain's Callum Hawkins in third.

Holywood man Paul Pollock was the top Irishman in 36th spot with Mick Clohisey 43rd, Mark Christie 56th, Liam Brady 62nd, Mark Hanrahan 65th and Kevin Dooney 69th.

Great Britain won topped the men's team standings with Turkey winning the women's event.

"These championships means so much to me," said a disappointed McCormack who has made a record 14 appearances at the European cross country.

"I really wanted to win. The Turks broke clear early and I never felt comfortable.

"I gave my best out there today but I think I'm better than that. There was a deceptive wind.

"I was chasing for gold and I'm really disappointed. I'll be back for a 15th time next year in Slovakia."

Arguably the best Irish performance of the day was Mullingar athlete Jack O'Leary's sixth place in the junior men's event after he had been in a medal position for much of the race.

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