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Dublin: 4 °C Monday 16 December, 2019
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It's time to move on from women's relay selection fiasco says athletics team chief

Patsy McGonagle says the spirit of the team heading to London today has not been affected by the Joanna Mills ‘deselection’.

Joanna Mills at the Antrim Forum in Belfast yesterday.
Joanna Mills at the Antrim Forum in Belfast yesterday.
Image: INPHO/Presseye/Matt Mackey

ATHLETICS TEAM MANAGER Patsy McGonagle has called on his Olympic squad to move on from the unfortunate Catriona Cuddihy/Joanna Mills affair, with the Games now just three days away.

Cuddihy was yesterday reinstated to the six-woman 4x400m relay team, after an Olympic Council of Ireland Appeals Tribunal reversed the decision to replace her with Mills.

Ballymena-born Mills may still appeal her de-selection to the Court of Arbitration of Sport, but with the squad due to arrive in London today, it seems unlikely. Having appeal after counter appeal to contend with just days ahead of an Olympic Games does not represent ideal preparation, but McGonagle says his team must not let the saga affect them.

“I have no qualms whatsoever about the spirit of the team. They will be as mentally strong as possible. We’ll move on,” he said yesterday. “I am absolutely confident that this is a team that has gelled over a period of time and they will perform,” he said on RTÉ radio earlier.

On the re-applied criteria that saw Cuddihy reinstated to the squad alongside her sister Joanna, the athletics team manager says her past contribution to the team was a factor.

“There were many aspects to the criteria and of course one of them would have been ongoing commitment to the team, over many months.”

The Olympic Council of Ireland have come in for criticism in some quarters for their handling of the issue, with their failure to find a quick resolution casting doubts over spirit. However, despite claiming an earlier solution would have been “desirable”, McGonagle thinks that that OCI could have done little more.

“I don’t think you can put any blame on the Olympic Council. The whole knock-on effect has been unfortunate. It is what it is. It is unfortunate for both the athletes concerned. Both Joanna, who is an excellent athlete and Catriona.”

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