Sport

Late McElhinney surge secures win in Abbottstown

October 29th, 2021 1:51 PM

By Southern Star Team

Darragh McElhinney impressed at the Autumn International Cross-Country at Abbotstown.

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Glengarriff athlete Darragh McElhinney was back in the headlines recently following a stirring performance at the Autumn International Cross-Country at Abbotstown.

Representing his club UCD, McElhinney who doesn’t turn 21 until November, won over the same course that will hold the prestigious European Cross Country Championships on December 12th.

The Glengarriff man will likely race in the U23 event at the Europeans and his performance on Sunday signalled that he is a genuine medal hope for the upcoming championships.

According to a report in the Irish Times on Monday, the late summer style ground on the purpose-built cross-country course at Abbotstown was well-suited to McElhinney’s fast running as he overtook Britain’s Tom Mortimer during the final lap to win the 7.5km race in an impressive time of 22:59.

McElhinney has been in good form of late having also recently won the IUAA Cross Country title.

The European Cross Country Championships will be held in Ireland for only the second time ever when they arrive here in December.

This recent return to form for McElhinney is welcome and comes at the perfect time for the West Cork man given the difficulties he faced earlier this year.

As one of Ireland’s main medal hopes at the European U23 championships back in July, McElhinney was left disappointed when a ‘farcical’ off-track decision cost him his chance to win a medal. His hopes of a podium finish in Estonia were dashed when organisers decided to split the men’s 5000m into an A and B race, graded on times this season.But McElhinney hadn’t run a 5000m this year. Instead he had focussed on 1500m and 3000m to improve his speed.

With no 5000m time this season, he was placed in the slower B race and this made a medal tilt almost impossible because the faster runners were all in the A race.

‘Any hopes I had of winning a medal were essentially decimated when European Athletics decided to split the European Championships into an A and B seeded race for the first time ever due to numbers,’ he told The Southern Star at the time.

With that disappointment now in the rear view, Ireland’s 5000m king will be hoping to end 2021 on a high in December.

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