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Page last updated at 15:44 GMT, Sunday, 13 December 2009

Mageean is ninth in junior race

Ciara Mageean
Ciara Mageean was ninth in the women's junior race

Portaferry girl Ciara Mageean finished ninth in Sunday's junior women's race at the European Cross Country Championships at Santry in Dublin.

Mageean was 30 seconds behind the winner, Norway's Karoline Grovdal.

Mark Kenneally was a superb eighth in the men's senior race while Fionnuala Britton was best of the Irish in the women's senior race in 11th place.

Mary Cullen was a disappointing 12th in the women's senior and Michael McKillop was 63rd in the men's junior race.

Paralympian McKillop was the fifth best Irish finisher and said afterwards that his preparations for the event had been affected by a heavy cold over the past week.

Ryan Creech was best of the Irish in the men's junior in 41st place.

With the exceptions of the performances delivered by Kenneally, Britton and Mageean, it was a disappointing day for the home nation, who received loud support from an enthusiastic Santry crowd.

Cullen was tipped to challenge strongly for a medal after finishing fourth 12 months ago but the Sligo woman struggled from the off, as she acknowledged later.

"I didn't feel good on the first lap and I don't know what the explanation is," added Cullen.

"I put so my planning and effort into preparing for these championships so it's a very disappointing day."

Cullen's disappointment was compounded as she and her senior women's team-mates missed out on a medal as Deirdre Byrne lost nearly 40 places on the final lap.

A team medal seemed in prospect as Britton, Byrne and Cullen occupied 10th to 12th positions at the bell before Byrne's race rapidly unravelled as the energy appeared to drain from her.

In truth, Byrne had been running well above expectations over the opening laps and she appeared to pay for her earlier efforts in the closing stages.

Britton finished 50 seconds behind shock winner Hayley Yelling who led all the way to take a stunning triumph.

Mark Kenneally
Mark Kenneally finished an excellent eighth in the senior men's race

Linda Byrne produced a solid run to take 25th with Ava Hutchinson 34th, Orla O'Mahony 35th and the exhausted Deirdre Byrne 48th.

That left the Irish woman in fourth place in the team stats - 24 places behind the bronze-winning Spanish.

Kenneally produced the race of his life in the senior men's event as he finished 18 places ahead of the next Irish finisher Martin Fagan.

Alistair Cragg endured another disappointing day in an Irish vest as he took 40th after suffering on the closing circuits while recent Irish Inter-Counties winner Andrew Ledwith was 41st.

The day had opened with the Irish junior men struggling with Ryan Creech the first finisher in 41st.

McKillop, hindered by his recent cold, was unable to reproduce his inter-counties winning heroics as Creech, Emmett Jennings (47th), Omagh lad Noel Collins (50th) and Finn Valley's Ian Ward (62nd) all finished ahead of the Paralympic champion.

Liam Tremble was two seconds behind McKillop in 65th.

Mageean was in the first three during the opening lap in the junior women's race before dropping back to 16th place just before the bell.

However, in typical fashion Mageean rallied on the last lap to finish a gutsy ninth and gave her all in the process.

Charlotte FFrench-O'Carrol was the next best of the Irish in 41st with Laura Shaughnessy 55th, Mary Mulhare 58th, Banbridge AC's Emma Mitchell 65th and Ballymena & Antrim's Eimear Black 71st.

Rose-Anne Galligan produced a brave run to take 15th in the women's under-23 event - only 44 seconds behind Turkish winner Sultan Haydar.

Breffni Twohig finished an excellent 17th with Sara Treacy 29th, Bryony Treston 37th, Laura Huet 43rd and Maria Walsh 45th, which combined to leave the Irish fifth in the team stakes.

North Belfast's Stephen Scullion was up with the leaders on lap one of the men's under-23 event and he continued to battle well as he finished 27th.

Michael Mulhare was top Irish under-23 in 18th with Brendan O'Neill 28th, John Coghlan 32nd, David Flynn 54th and David Rooney 56th.

see also
Marvel Mageean
08 Dec 09 |  Athletics
Euro challenge
07 Dec 09 |  Athletics
McKillop ready to face Europe's best
07 Dec 09 |  Athletics
Mageean gears up for Euro Cross Country
03 Dec 09 |  Athletics
Irish pick Euro Cross selection
28 Nov 09 |  Athletics
McKillop wins Irish junior title
22 Nov 09 |  Athletics
McKillop aims to match Smyth feat
17 Nov 09 |  Athletics
Sprinter Smyth claims Irish title
02 Aug 09 |  Athletics
Smyth claims second Beijing gold
16 Sep 08 |  Disability Sport
Smyth wins 100m gold in Beijing
13 Sep 08 |  Disability Sport
McKillop claims gold for Ireland
10 Sep 08 |  Disability Sport
McKillop mission
03 Sep 08 |  Disability Sport

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