The Irish U20 men’s team produced excellent performances at the European Cross Country Championships in Turin this morning to take a well earned team silver medal.
The team performance was aided by individual medals for both Nick Griggs (Mid Ulster AC) and Dean Casey (Ennis Track AC) who won silver and bronze, respectively. Both athletes had a thrilling dual at last month’s National Cross Country Championships in Donegal.
Griggs was within metres of taking the title when an unfortunate stumble perhaps through fatigue caused him to lose his momentum and allowed British athlete Will Barnicoat to pass him.
The disappointment was obvious in Griggs’ face, but he was still able to take the positives from his performance.
“My plan was just to sit in with the lads and see if I had enough to hold on.
“Mark (Kirk) my coach told me down the hill to go for it and in the home straight I stumbled a bit and it cost me.
“It’s disappointing but I gave it everything and if you would have told me yesterday that I would have got a silver I would have been buzzing so mixed emotions really.
“I had the race won going into the home straight and I fumbled it.
“I’ll take some time to reflect but I can’t be disappointed with silver realistically.”
Casey, who finished 13th in the final of the 5000m at the World U20 Championships this summer was ecstatic after taking bronze.
“It’s unreal,” he said.
“I came 13th last year when I know I wasn’t the best so to come third this year shows how much training I’ve done.
Griggs made a move in the final 800m as he kicked up the hill and Casey reacted.
“I knew it was my time to go as well.
“If I wanted to have a chance of winning a medal I had to go on the last hill.”
Sean McGinley (Finn Valley AC) was the third scorer on the team crossing the line in a fantastic twelfth position.
Callum Morgan (St. Malachy’s AC) also made the top twenty, finishing 18th, while Jonas Stafford (Ashford AC) was 33rd and Mark Hanrahan (Ennis Track AC) crossed the line in 53rd position.