Ireland’s Euro Cross heroes received a warm welcome home this morning when they plane touched down at Dublin airport at 9AM and were greeted by members of the press together with friends, family and supporters of the winning Men’s U23 team.
The gold medal winning team of David McCarthy (West Waterford AC), Brendan O’Neill (DSD), Michael Mulhare (North Laois AC), David Rooney (Raheny Shamrock AC), John Coghlan (Metro /St Brigid’s AC) and Ciaran O’Lionaird (Leevale AC) were all in sparkling form as they appeared into the arrivals area with the rest of the Irish Team from the 17th European Cross Country Championships in Albufeira, Portugal.
Speaking to RTE & TV3 news and sports crews, and journalists from the written press, the victorious team were delighted to share their experiences in winning Ireland’s first cross country gold medals on the international stage since Catherina McKiernan’s individual gold back in 1994.
West Waterford’s David McCarthy told reporters that the team felt confident that they would do well before the race.
“There was a mood in the team that was different to every other year. Without getting ahead of ourselves, we just felt confident the night before. We felt it was going to happen.”
Team Manager Anne Keenan-Buckley, who was on the Irish women’s team that won a European cross country silver in 2003, said, “Our junior men finished fifth out of 17 teams in Albufeira, too which was a great result. Athletics Ireland has definitely made progress and will now be looking to fund and support more of these athletes and get them to this level of competition.”
Five of the U23 team are still in college, with O’Neill the only graduate at this stage. McCarthy is at Providence College, Rhode Island; O’Lionaird attends Florida State University; Rooney is at McNeese College, in the US too. Mulhare and Coghlan attend the University of Limerick and DCU respectively.
The result suggests real grounds for optimism and appetite for more success on the international stage in the future for these athletes.