21 October 2018
Sean Tobin and Shona Heaslip scored significant victories at yesterday’s Autumn International Cross Country Classic at the National Sports Campus in Abbotstown, north Dublin. In mild and dry conditions both marked themselves out as potential top ten finishers as the countdown starts to the European Cross Championships in December.
DTC’s Gideon Kimosop took fourth while Adam Kirk Smith also impressed with a close-up seventh in a top class field. The pair had been second and third respectively in 2017 but in a much weaker field.
Tobin distanced himself from the field as early as the second lap of the 7.5 kilometre race and after the it was just a question of how great would be his winning margin. In the end the University of Mississippi graduate crossed the finish line with a 36 second buffer over runner-up Kevin Dooney with his Clonmel club mate Kevin Maunsell taking third another four seconds back in third.
Derry-based Kenyan Gideon Kimosop took fourth with his DTC colleague Adam Kirk-Smith showing a return to form in seventh. Glaslough Harrier Conor Duffy will also be pleased with a close-up 11th but it may be back to the drawing board for St. Malachy’s Ben Branagh who slipped to 18th after being among the leaders early on.
Shona Heaslip was equally dominant in the women’s race over six kilometres. The Kerry woman took the initiative from the gun and although Scotland’s Mairi MacLennan closed the margin late on to four seconds she was never going to deny the An Riocht athlete here second consecutive win in the event.
Armagh AC’s Fionnuala Ross had probably her best ever race over the country to take third just another 10 seconds back to put herself in contention for a place on the team for the Euros. Letterkenny’s Nakita Burke (17th) and North Down’s Rachel Gibson (20th) both sneaked into top 20 spots. Pre-race favourite Emma Mitchell was a late withdrawal.
North Down’s Craig McMeechan was the first northerner in the Junior (U20) Men’s race race, taking fifth, with City of Derry’s Fintan Stewart (10th) and Newcastle’s Patrick McNiff also catching the eye. Tirconnaill’s Mia McCalmont also impressed with an unexpected second in the Junior Women’s race.