Keelan Kilrehill of Moy Valley AC (bronze) at the end of the senior men's 10,000m race during the Senior Cross-County Championships in Rosapenna, Donegal, last weekend. Kilrehill and fellow medallists Efrem Gidey of Clonliffe Harriers AC, Dublin (silver), and Darragh McElhinney of UCD AC, Dublin (gold), are on the Irish Under 23 team for the upcoming SPAR European Cross-Country Championships. Also in the photograph are Athletics Ireland chair of competitions, Andrew Lynam, the CEO of RSA Ireland (a subsidiary of, Kevin Thompson, Olympian Danny McDaid and Athletics Ireland president John Cronin. Photo: Ben McShane / Sportsfile

Mayo-based athlete selected on exciting Irish team for SPAR European Cross-Country Championships

Moy Valley AC athlete Keelan Kilrehill will take his place on a strong looking Irish Under 23 team for the upcoming SPAR European Cross-Country Championships, which will take place at La Mandria Park, on the outskirts of Turin, on December 11.

The team will be spearheaded by last year’s European cross-country silver medallist (Under 23), Darragh McElhinney, following his superb performance at the National Senior Cross-Country championships at the weekend, which saw the Cork athlete claim his first senior cross-country title.

The Glengarrif star will line up alongside fellow European cross-country medallist Efrem Gidey (Under 20 bronze in 2019) as well as Kilrehill of the Ballina-based Moy Valley club and Jamie Battle of Mullingar Harriers, who were both part of last year’s Under 23 gold medal-winning team in Fingal.

While the men’s Under 23 race looks to have plenty of depth throughout, a strong team showing can be expected and McElhinney is sure to have Kilrehill and Gidey for company as the race hots up.

Irish fans can also expect to see Battle as well as Thomas McStay (Galway City Harriers) and Shay McEvoy (Kilkenny City Harriers) all staying on at the finish as they look to eke out every last position.

Elsewhere, European silver-medallist Ciara Mageean (City of Lisburn AC) heads the Irish squad selected for the 28th edition of the championships. It is stacked with Olympic and European Championship experience.

Mageean is joined in the squad by fellow Olympians Michelle Finn (Leevale AC), Andrew Coscoran (Star of the Sea AC), Nadia Power (Dublin City Harriers) and Sunday’s National Senior Cross-Country champion Sarah Healy (UCD AC).

This year’s squad also includes two of last year’s Under 20 silver medal-winning team members in Nick Griggs (Mid Ulster AC) and Dean Casey (Ennis Track), who will lead out yet another strong looking Irish Under 20 team.

The senior women’s team will see Ann Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC), Roisin Flanagan (Finn Valley AC), Mary Mulhare (Portlaoise AC), and Aoibhe Richardson (Kilkenny City Harriers) join Mageean and Finn in what looks a stacked senior race, where Ireland will look to better last year’s agonising fourth place finish.

The senior men’s team also came close to medalling in 2021 (four points off bronze) and they will look to the in-form Brian Fay (Raheny Shamrock) to provide yet another of his now trademark gritty displays in his bid for another European top 10 finish.

Hiko Tonosa Haso (Dundrum South Dublin) looked backed to his best at nationals on Sunday and the experienced duo can expect plenty of backup from the quality quartet of Peter Lynch (Kilkenny City Harriers), Pierre Murchan (Dublin City Harriers), Cormac Dalton (Mullingar Harriers) and Irish indoor 5,000m record holder Barry Keane (Waterford AC), who all look to be peaking at the right time.

The women’s Under 23 won’t be found lacking for championships experience either, with Danielle Donegan (UCD AC), Laura Mooney (Tullamore Harriers), Aoife Ó Cuill (St. Coca’s AC) and Jodie McCann (Dublin City Harriers) sure to work together in a bid to back up an attempt from Sarah Healy to better her excellent fifth place finish from Fingal last December. Niamh O'Mahoney (An Ríocht AC) makes her championship debut following an excellent 2022 season.

The men’s Under 20 team looks particularly strong and recent rivals Griggs and Casey are sure to go with the leading pack from the gun. Jonas Stafford (Ashford AC) looked in the form of his life in taking the bronze medal in the Under 20 race in Rosapenna at the weekend, while Sean McGinley (Finn Valley), Callum Morgan (St. Malachy's AC) and Mark Hanrahan (Ennis Track) should head into December 11 full of confidence given recent performances.

Anika Thompson (Leevale AC) made the long trip from Oregon to Donegal at the weekend all the more worthwhile in taking the Under 20 women’s title impressively. Thompson will head an exciting women’s team, with Roise Roberts (North Belfast Harriers) and Jane Buckley (Leevale AC) back for another bite at the European Under 20 race following encouraging performances at the grade last year.

Anna Gardiner (East Down AC), Hannah Kehoe (Kilkenny City Harriers) and Fiona Hawkins (Dublin City Harriers) complete another young and exciting team.

The mixed relay team will have no shortage of speed or experience, with Olympians Andrew Coscoran (Star of the Sea) and Nadia Power (Dublin City Harriers) joining 1,000m record holders (indoor) Georgie Hartigan (Dundrum South Dublin) and Luke McCann (Dublin City Harriers) as they each look to master the 1,500m lap.


Commenting on team selection, Athletics Ireland's national endurance co-ordinator, Matt Lockett, said: “We must acknowledge the outstanding work from athletes to put themselves in contention for selection for these championships. The depth in cross-country running at present is fabulous to see, and is a testament to the work of coaches and athletes.

“We enjoyed a superb home European Cross-Country championships in Dublin last December and we are in no doubt those who have been selected are primed to take on the best in Europe on December 11 once again.”

The SPAR European Cross-Country Championships is one of the main seasonal appointments of the European Athletics calendar and is hosted by Italy for the fourth time after the editions of Ferrara in 1998, San Giorgio su Legnano in 2006 and Chia in 2016. Piemonte 2022 follows the edition of Fingal last December, which saw Ireland claim three medals (two team and one individual), topped off with team gold in the men’s Under 23 race.

“Athletics Ireland would like to congratulate all of our athletes and their coaches who have been selected for the SPAR European Cross-Country Championships on December 11. We are very proud of you all and look forward to cheering you on as you represent us once more,” Lockett concluded.