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'Maybe we can use home advantage to take a crack at a couple of medals' - Euro Cross coming to Dublin
The Sport Ireland Campus in Abbotstown will host the delayed European Cross Country Championships on Sunday, 12 December.

spar-european-cross-country-championship-2021-launch Harry Murphy / SPORTSFILE Andrew Coscoran at the launch of the SPAR European Cross Country Championships. Harry Murphy / SPORTSFILE / SPORTSFILE

AFTER QUESTIONS ABOUT whether or not it was actually happening, the countdown officially began today.

Dublin is most definitely hosting the SPAR European Cross Country Championships later this year, with all eyes on the Sport Ireland Campus in Abbotstown on Sunday, 12 December.

“Somewhat forgotten but certainly not gone,” as has been noted, the championships — taking place a year later than originally scheduled due to the 2020 cancellation amidst the Covid-19 crisis — were launched this afternoon; excitement building as Ireland prepares for another major sporting event, in which the best cross country runners from across Europe will go head-to-head on these shores.

In a press release, Sport Ireland CEO and former athlete John Treacy was among the top brass hailing the “world-class” purpose-built cross country course in Abbotstown, and acclaiming the honour and pride of this landmark event for Irish athletics.

But current stars and Tokyo Olympians Sarah Healy and Andrew Coscoran said it best, both targeting memorable days as Dublin hosts Euro Cross for just the second time ever. (The 2009 edition was held in Santry.)

“Everyone talks about home advantage, I suppose that is a thing so maybe we can use that home advantage to take a crack at a couple of medals,” Coscoran enthused.

“I think the fact it’s in Dublin means that a lot of Irish athletes are targeting it, maybe some that wouldn’t, maybe some guys coming down from the marathon or guys from 1500m, 5k moving up.

“On the European level, I think we could definitely field some good teams and hopefully have a crack at [medals] maybe in either 10k for the men or maybe the mixed relay. The women’s senior team and men’s U23 team seem pretty strong too so yeah, I think there’s a couple of good teams coming through the ranks.”

While Coscoran’s last taste of Euro Cross was in 2014 where he finished 40th in the juniors in Serbia, there was some stunning success at the last championships in Lisbon in 2019.

Efrem Gidey and Stephanie Cotter won individual bronze medals in the U20 men and U23 women’s races respectively, with Cotter’s U23s and Fionnuala McCormack’s seniors landing superb team silvers.

A sick Sarah Healy watched on from home that day. “They did so well and I wanted to be part of it so badly,” she recalls, pleased to be going back to her cross country roots now.

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“Hopefully we can replicate that. It’s really tough running cross country, but hopefully it being at home will give everyone that extra boost.

“It means a lot that it is in Ireland. It’s such a cool event. I only ran it once, but it was so much fun. I think Ireland does cross country really well. It’s so exciting, especially given it has been so long since we have had anything like this.”

RTÉ will broadcast all seven races live — “It’s great to have coverage of the races and try to get the Irish behind it, because if it’s not on TV, people aren’t gonna watch it,” Coscoran nods — with tickets on sale through the 2021 SPAR European Cross Country Championships website on Monday, 1 November, for €8.

Children under the age of 16 go free, with tickets also available to buy on the day for €10.

Bernard Jackman, Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey chat all things Connacht, Munster, Leinster and Ulster — and welcome back the AIL — on The42 Rugby Weekly

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