Tullamore AC's Danielle Donegan chasing the eventual winner Fiona Everard at the 123.ie National Cross Country Championships in Gowran, Co Kilkenny on Sunday.

Danielle claims third place in National Cross Country Championships

Tullamore AC's Danielle Donegan finished a fantastic third at the 123.ie National Cross Country Championships in Gowran, Co Kilkenny on Sunday.

The Offaly athlete had another reason to celebrate on the day as was the first under 23 to cross the finish line.

Fiona Everard (Bandon AC) and Cormac Dalton (Mullingar Harriers) claimed their first national senior titles, coping best in the tough conditions over the new 9,000m distance.

The women’s race saw the quartet of Everard, Mary Mulhare (Portlaoise AC), Danielle Donegan (Tullamore AC), and Fionnula Ross (Armagh AC) race clear of the field at the mid-way point before an injection of pace from Everard saw her stretch clear of the field to claim gold with almost 40 seconds to spare on second place Mulhare, and third placed Donegan with a finish time of 00:37:10.

Mary Mulhare of Portlaoise AC, Laois, left, and Danielle Donegan of Tullamore Harriers AC, Offaly, competing in the Womens Senior 9000m during the 123.ie National Senior & Even Age Cross Country Championships at Gowran Demesne in Kilkenny. Photo by Ben McShane/Sportsfile. Photo by Ben McShane / SPORTSFILE

It completes a remarkable twelve months for the Bandon athlete who only last year claimed the national novice cross country title in what were every bit as challenging as today’s muddy underfoot conditions.

Speaking after the race Everard said: “I’m still trying to let it sink in, I’m so thrilled with the win. I knew I could be competitive and hoped to make the plane to Euro Cross which I thought would be my ultimate goal in a best-case scenario, but I never thought I’d win it.”

Everard continued: “It was pretty tough out there but I do tend to run well when it’s like that so I told myself that I should like the mud and I was prepared. I couldn’t really enjoy the run in because I was waiting for someone to come past me, so I was just willing myself to get to the line”.

Dublin City Harriers were led home by Edel Monaghan (9th) to claim the team title with an impressive showing which saw four athletes finish in the top 16.