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Fall ends rising star Healy's hopes of medal at European Cross Country

There were strong performances from Sara Treacy, Sean Tobin and Ryan Forsyth in Tilburg.

POISED TO MAKE her move, Sarah Healy’s hopes of completing her golden year with a podium finish at the European Cross Country Championships ended when she took a tumble in the U20 race.

The Holy Child Killiney student, who was giving two years away to many of her opponents, collided with another runner shortly after the halfway mark of the 4.3km course in Tilburg.  

Sarah Healy Sarah Healy takes a breather after the U20 race. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Healy, a double European U18 champion on the track, battled valiantly to the finish but was unable to make up the ground, eventually crossing in ninth position, the exhaustion of chasing hard on show as she crossed the line.

Her Irish team-mate Emma O’Brien finished just ahead of Healy in eighth, with Ireland claiming a sixth-place finish overall with 42 points, just three off Turkey who won the bronze medal.

Despite the disappointment of the fall, Healy was positive afterwards.

“I’m not really sure what happened,” the 18-year-old said.

“But that’s just the nature of cross country running. This is my first one [European Cross Country Championships], and even though it didn’t really work out, exactly as I would have wanted it to go, I’m still happy that I competed well, the team finished sixth, and we had fun.”

Meanwhile, Sean Tobin crossed the line in tenth place in the men’s senior race as the Irish team finished a very creditable seventh. 

Finishing behind Tobin were Kevin Dooney [26th], Kevin Maunsell [34th], Kevin Batt [55th], Mick Clohisey [67th] and Damien Landers [78th].

The senior women’s team, meanwhile, finished 11th with Meath native Sara Treacy producing a brilliant performance on her return to international competition after an injury-plagued 18 months.

The Rio Olympian finished best of the Irish in 26th, Ciara Mageean was 43rd, Michelle Finn 51st, Ann-Marie McGlynn 57th, Fionnuala Ross 61st and Kerry O’Flaherty 64th. 

The race was won by Turkey’s Yasemin Can, as she claimed a third straight title. 

“I love being here I love being at this level of competition,” Treacy said afterwards. 

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Ryan Forsyth Ireland's Ryan Forsyth in action in the U23 race. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

“It brings out the best in me. I race better with good competition. I just loved it out there, I really enjoy getting stuck in. There was a whole load of pain in the middle of the race but that is normal for Cross Country or any race.

“It feels really good to be back hopefully I can get some consistency an continue to push on, I’m still on my way back, I want to be better than 26th and I want to continue to develop from here but it is class to be back and having the craic with the girls.”

Earlier, Ireland’s Ryan Forsyth came agonisingly close to claiming a memorable medal on his international debut, as he finished fourth in the U23 race. 

Forsyth made his intentions clear from early on getting out fast in the opening straight to lead around the tight hairpin turn.

The Newcastle athlete didn’t let up throughout and despite being detached from the leading trio, he kicked on hard at the finish and was only one second behind the bronze medal.

The team battled well, too, and were in the bronze-medal position halfway through the race but ultimately had to settle for sixth. 

Murray Kinsella, Gavan Casey and Andy Dunne preview a big weekend of Heineken Cup action and dissect the week’s main talking points.

Source: Heineken Rugby Weekly on The42/SoundCloud

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Ryan Bailey

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