Paul Pollock showed he’s back in form by winning the men’s title at the Irish National Cross Country Championships at Abbotstown on Sunday (November 26), while Shona Heaslip retained her crown.

From the start of the 10km race, Pollock was part of a lead group that included Kevin and Conor Dooney from Raheny Shamrock, Joe Sweeney of Dundrum South Dublin, John Travers of Donore Harriers, Stephen Scullion, who runs in Clonliffe colours, and Adam Kirk Smith of Derry Track Club.

Pollock kept his cool when first Sweeney and then Kevin Dooney pushed the pace on a strength-sapping and muddy course. He only made his move on the third of five 2km laps and then increased his lead as the race progressed.

He was happy with his result, which came after a confidence-building time at the Leeds Abbey Dash 10km a few weeks ago. “I’m looking forward now to the European Championships and will concentrate on preparing for that over the next two weeks,” he said afterwards.

For second place, Kevin Dooney had to dig deep to shake off the challenge of Hugh Amstrong of Ballina AC, who is based in Providence, Rhode Island. Donore’s John Travers came through to finish fourth with William Maunsell of Clonmel fifth, Leevale’s Mark Hanrahan sixth and DSD’s Joe Sweeney seventh. Winning the U23 title was Tom O’Keeffe of Kilkenny City Harriers). Raheny’s Eoin Strutt was second and Killian Mooney of DSD third.

Raheny Shamrock comfortably retained the team title, with Kilkenny City Harriers second and DSD just pipping Donore Harriers for third.

Proving the class of the field in the women’s 8km race was defending champion Shona Heaslip from Riocht AC. Only Kerry O’Flaherty of Newcastle AC attempted to stay with the flying Kerrywoman but, like last year, had to be content with second place when Heaslip, who is now training full time, found an extra gear on the final lap.

In third and fourth places were Michelle Finn and Lizzie Lee who ensured team victory for Leevale, with Armagh AC’s Fionnuala Ross fifth. Carol Finn and Claire McCarthy also finished in the top 10.

Second were the defending champions Dundrum South Dublin, led by Maria McCambridge who drew on all her experience to outkick McCarthy, winner of the British and Irish masters title a week earlier. An Riocht, with a team that included Shona Heaslip’s coach Niamh O’Sullivan, finished third of the teams.

Winning the U23 race over the same distance was Bethanie Murray of DSD. Lauren Dermody of Kilkenny City Harriers was second and Katie Moore from North Down third.

On a great day for North Down, Craig McMeechan was a surprise winner of a thrilling junior and U18 men’s race, outsprinting Raheny’s Brian Fay in the chase for the line. Charlie O’Donovan of Leevale pipped early leader Fearghal Curtin of Youghal AC for third, with James Edgar from City of Lisburn) and Darragh McElhinney of Bantry AC fifth and sixth.

Bandon’s Laura Nicholson won the junior and U18 women’s race, with Stephanie Cotter of West Muskerrysecond and DSD’s Jodie McCann third.

Full results will appear on the Athletics Ireland website. The Irish team for the European Championships is to be announced on Monday, November 27. The top two men and women from the senior and junior races are guaranteed selection, as are the U23 winners.

Seeley Cup 10k / Northern Ireland and Ulster Championships, Belfast, November 25

Gideon Kipsang and Emma Mitchell were the winners of Saturday’s Seeley Cup 10km, incorporating the Northern Ireland and Ulster Championships held in Ormeau Park Belfast.

Derry-based Kipsang and Scott Rankin of Foyle Valley has broken away from the chasers by the half way mark which they went in around 15 mins 35 secs. By 6km, Kipsang has taken the lead and the gap between him and Rankin grew. He finished in 30 mins 40 secs, with Rankin second and taking the Northern Ireland Championships title, in 30:56.

Springwell’s Neil Johnston finished third ahead of Danny Mooney from Letterkenny in 31 mins 6 secs, with Declan Reed of City of Derry Spartans a close fifth and first master.

In the women’s race, defending champion Emma Mitchell of QUeen’s university AC shook off the challenge of Laura Graham from Mourne Runners to win in 34 minutes exactly. Graham finished second in 34: 21 secs.

Taking third place was City of Lisburn’s Kelly Neely in 35.51 who was also the first W35. Gladys Ganiel of North Belfast Harriers was fourth and first W40 in 36:21. A total of 893 completed the race. North Belfast Harriers won both men and women’s team titles.

Two days earlier Emma Mitchell had travelled to Dublin where she ran a personal best time of 9 mins 4.21 secs for 3000m at a graded indoor meet held in the National Indoors Arena, Abbotstown. Running on for a 4km time trial in the same race was Fionnuala McCormack.

Full results can be found here.

Next meet in Abbotstown is on December 7. Register for €10 per event at here.