Ireland maintain place in 1st League

KIlcoole AC's Fionnuala Britton produced the performance of the weekend to help Ireland finish 10th overall in the European Team Championships 1st League in Izmir, Turkey.

The Irish squad's efforts tallied up 224.5 points and that haul was enough to secure their standing in the 1st League, ahead of relegated Slovenia and Croatia.

On the track at Atatürk Stadium, Britton led the field for most of her 5000 metres race and eventually finished second behind Turkey's Alemitu Bekele in a time of 15 minutes, 37.78 seconds.

The 26-year-old has been enjoying an encouraging outdoor season so far, which has included setting a new 3000m steeplechase personal best (9:37.60) when achieving the World Championship and Olympic qualifying standards in New York last weekend.

Derval O'Rourke claimed fourth place in her first outdoor 100m hurdles of the year, clocking 13.11 seconds with Norway's Christina Vukicevic taking the win in 12.87. Amy Foster set a new personal best of 23.58 when finishing sixth in the 200m, while in the men's event Paul Hession from Anthenry posted a season's best of 20.65 for fifth place.

The fit-again Joanne Cuddihy, who has been training full-time in Australia this year, was part of the women's 4x400m team that finished second in 3:31.25. Marian Heffernan, Clare Bergin and Michelle Carey performed well as part of the quartet. The men's foursome of Brian Murphy, Brian Gregan, Tim Crowe and Nick Hogan ran 3:06.76 to finish fifth.

Gordon Kennedy showed the desired team spirit when he stepped in to compete in the 110m hurdles after Ian McDonald, O'Rourke's training partner, was forced out with an injury. The Tullamore sprinter finished sixth in his race (20.36), needless to say, but his participation added some more points to Ireland's tally.

In the 800m, Darren McBrearty from Letterkenny AC finished ninth in 1:52.31 in a very physical race that saw him bumped as the athletes came into the home straight. In the 1500m Rory Chesser was fifth in 4.02.46, while in her European Team Championships debut, talented youngster Ciara Mageean produced a gutsy performance to finish fourth in the 1500m in 4:27.20.

David Flynn, who has already achieved the European Under-23 qualification standard, finished eighth in the 3000m steeplechase in 9:06.94, while Ciaran O Lionaird secured seventh spot in the 3000m (8:13.41).

Meanwhile, Karen Alexander from the Sperrin Harriers club has won a silver medal for Ireland in the World Long-Distance Challenge in Slovenia. The course was held over a very testing 37.5 kilometres with 2500m of ascent and 2800m of descent.

Midway through the race, Alexander was in 11th position but she managed to pick off the fast starters and move through a highly competitive field, hitting the finish line in 4 hours and 16 minutes. Pippa Maddams won the gold with her English compatriot Helen Fines coming home in third.

EUROPEAN TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS 1ST LEAGUE:

Final Standings:

1. Turkey 329 points

2. Greece 307.5

3. Norway 290

4. Romania 282.5

5. The Netherlands 278

6. Hungary 265

7. Switzerland 251.5

8. Finland 248

9. Belgium 245.5

10. Ireland 224.5

11. Slovenia 200.5

12. Croatia 178

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