Fionnuala Britton, the Irish Ladies cross-country team and the Irish team manager Letterkenny AC’s Teresa McDaid are the toast of Irish athelics this week.
This follows Britton and the Irish team’s gold medal success at the European cross-country championship, in Budapest last Sunday.
Britton, with Ballintra and Ballyshannon connections, took the gold medal place coming home first ahead of Anne Dulce Felix from Portugal, who was second. Her Irish team colleagues Linda Byrne, in eight place, Ava Hutchinson, 20th, and Lizzie Lee in 23rd completed the scoring Irish line-up as Ireland also took team gold.
“I’m really delighted for the girls. It is a fabulous achievement and goes along way to exorcise the ghost of 2009 when we disappointed at home in Dublin,” Teresa McDaid, told the Democrat.
“It is a brilliant achievement not only for Fionnuala, to be the first woman to win the title for the second time but also because it is a first gold medal for Ireland at the championship.
“To hear the National Anthem being played twice in the space of 10 minutes was something special. But to be honest it is only since I came home that what we have achieved has sunk in.
“I suppose when you have the number one you are always in with a great chance. But overall the girls packed very well and ran a very good race.”
The fact that McDaid has known the girls since their underage days and the fact that she has been their coach at numerous international events over the last 10 years makes it all the more pleasing for the Letterkenny woman.
“They are a brilliant bunch of girls and there is a great body among them and all the coaching staff and they reaped their reward on Sunday.”
The ladies were the big Irish success story and only medalist at the Championship which the team manager otherwise described as a mixed bag.
“We had some good individual performances some average performances and we had a number of people that would be disappointed with their own performances.
She also insisted for some the championships were a learning experience. And that was very much the case for Donegal athletes Christopher Johnston, Letterkenny AC and Sarah Collins, Finn Valley, AC.
Christopher was a member of the Irish U-23 team and Sarah was a member Irish junior women’s team at the championship.
“It was a learning experience for both Christopher and Sarah and while they were probably disappointed with their own performances they will have learned a lot from the experience and it will stand to them in the future,” McDaid said.
Finn Valley AC’s Neil Martin was also a member of the Irish coaching staff at the championship.