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Jane hits her European target, but Darragh left disappointed

December 17th, 2022 2:30 PM

By Kieran McCarthy

Jane Buckley on her way to a fifth-place finish at the European Cross-Country Championships in Italy. (Photo: Sasa Pahic Szabo/INPHO)

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BY KIERAN McCARTHY

JANE Buckley’s star continues to rise after the Newcestown teenager’s latest impressive outing.

The 19-year-old West Cork athlete continued her sparkling form of late when she bagged a brilliant fifth-place finish in the women’s U20 race at the European Cross-Country Championships in Italy on Sunday.

Twelve months earlier, in December 2021, Buckley finished 30th in the women’s U20 race at the same event, but her showing at La Mandria Park highlighted how she’s moving in the right direction.

She was in contention for a medal spot for a large part of this 4000m race, and finished in 13:22, just 14 seconds off the bronze medal (13:08) and only 18 seconds behind the winner, Maria Forero from Spain in 13:04. The Irish women’s U20 team finished eighth overall.

‘I knew I was fitter this year than I was last year so I was hoping to finish in the top five – and I did that so I’m happy,’ Buckley said after the race, as she brought the curtains down on her 2022 season, which included an eye-catching victory in the women’s 6k at the Big East Cross-Country Championships in America.

 

While Buckley was delighted with her performance, Glengarriff’s Darragh McElhinney couldn’t hide his disappointment after he finished 26th in the men’s U23 race. He won a silver medal in the same event at the 2021 Europeans and was expected to be in the medal conversation on Sunday. Three laps into the 8000m race 22-year-old McElhinney – in his last-ever U23 race – was right in the mix, moving well in the lead group of four and even led at one stage. But then his hopes of a medal started to unravel as he slipped back through the field to eventually finish 26th. A silver lining is that the Irish men’s U23 team won a bronze medal, thanks to some superb running from Efrem Gidey (fifth), Keelan Kilrehill (ninth), and Shane McEvoy (15th).

‘Obviously I am very disappointed,’ McElhinney reflected afterwards.

‘I don’t think the course really suited me and I went out way too hard. The course rewarded people who ran it smart and I don’t think I did. Even with myself having such a bad day the boys still came through for the bronze medal – and a bad day for us now is getting a bronze medal, which is obviously a good thing. Overall, mixed emotions.’

While this wasn’t the end to the year that McElhinney had hoped for, 2022 was still another year of progress and development, as he won three national senior titles and also set six new Personal Bests, leaving him in a good place to kick on again in 2023.

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