BY JOHN WALSHE
COMPETING in her first senior international, Fiona Everard finished a brilliant 14th at the Cross Cup de Hannut in Belgium, just one place and one second behind Fionnuala Ross who was first of the Irish.
The Belgium event is part of the World Cross-Country Tour and the quality of the field can be seen from the winner, Rahel Daniel of Eritrea, who was fifth last year over 10,000m at the World Championships in Oregon.
The 21-year-old also boasts best times of 14:35.66 for 5000m and 30:12.15 for 10,000m.
Second in Belgium over the 8km course, four seconds behind Daniel’s time of 28:41, was Sarah Lahti of Sweden with third spot going to British runner Megan Keith in 28:49.
For Everard, a native of Enniskeane and a member of the Bandon club, it was a continuation of an excellent season which saw her take the national novice title at Conna before Christmas, adding to her ninth place at the National Seniors in Donegal the previous month.
Everard’s time in Belgium of 30:06 saw her crossing the line just a second behind Ross, while the remainder of the Ireland team also acquitted themselves well. Laurean Tinkler finished 19th (30:42), Fiona McKenna 20th (30:42) with Hannah Gilliland 35th (32:59).
Two other Cork athletes who won national titles at Conna – Avril Millerick in the U20 grade and Paul Hartnett in the men’s novice – were also competing in Belgium. Millerick, of the Youghal club, finished 14th in the junior race with Hartnett (East Cork) taking fifth place in the U23 which was held in conjunction with the senior men.
Meanwhile, on the local front, Alan O’Shea from Bandon ran a solo time of 15:45 at the Ballincollig parkrun, finishing over three minutes ahead of the second runner, Sean Browne. This time placed the 42-year-old doctor, who won the Cork City Marathon back in 2007, amongst the top ten parkruns performances in the UK and Ireland over the weekend.