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'Shocked' Fiona Everard revels in first senior title after win at National Cross Country Championships

Fiona Everard admitted her sense of shock after claiming a first senior title at the National Cross Country Championships at Gowran Demesne in Kilkenny on Sunday.

The Bandon AC athlete won gold in the women's senior race, on an afternoon when Cormac Dalton claimed a maiden title in the men's race, and ensured that she did more than just simply secure a place in the Irish team for the European Cross Country Championships in Brussels on 10 December.

"I'm just really shocked. Coming into this I thought the best case scenario, I'll just be on the plane," she told RTÉ Sport's Greg Allen.

"So I was kind of hoping, to get onto the plane you'd have to be top three. I didn't think winning it would be possible. I'm just so shocked with that but thrilled."

She added on coming to terms with becoming a national champion: "I feel every time I hear it, it still doesn't feel real. It'll take a while to sink in. I'll just need to get around it, get my head down again and hopefully have another three weeks to go. It will be nice to get back to a bit of training and a bit of normality."

Her senior breakthrough comes just a year after she won the novice title at the Nationals. Everard put that meteoric change in fortunes down to putting injuries behind her and the input of her coach Matt Lockett.

"I think the year before last, I was just constantly injured, had stress fractures and a few bone injuries," she said.

"Matt took me on this time last year - I think last October - and he had the long-term goal in mind.

"So I think that helped me. I got a consistent year under which I hadn't had in ages. So hopefully we'll keep that going but I'll be sticking with whatever he tells me anyway. It's working."