Rio 2016: Four Northern Ireland athletes named on Ireland's Olympic team

Paul Pollock, Kevin Seaward and Mick Clohisey after Sunday's European Championship Half Marathon in Amsterdam
Northern Ireland marathon runners Paul Pollock (left) and Kevin Seaward (centre) will compete in Rio

Northern Ireland runners Ciara Mageean, Kerry O'Flaherty, Paul Pollock and Kevin Seaward have been named on Ireland's Olympic athletics team.

The 17-strong team also includes North Belfast's Leitrim native Breege Connolly plus Donegal athletes Mark English and Brendan Boyce.

Mageean won a bronze medal at the European Championships on Sunday.

Pollock, 30, emphasised his readiness for Rio by finishing top Irishman in the half marathon in Amsterdam.

Holywood runner Pollock's weekend performance answered the criticism of his Olympic selection.

Pollock was preferred to Sergio Ciobanu for one of Ireland's marathon spots even though his qualifying time was 24 seconds slower than the Moldovan-born athlete.

Ciobanu appealed against his Rio omission in May but his plea was unsuccessful.

The Irish selectors were swayed by Pollock's impressive 14th place at the World Half Marathon in March and his previous good performances in major championships.

On Sunday, Pollock finished three minutes and 18 seconds ahead of Ciobana.

The Irish squad includes former world champion walker Robert Heffernan who looks set to be upgraded from fourth place to a bronze medal in the 50K at London 2012 following a drugs ban imposed on Russian winner Sergey Kirdyapkin.

Ireland's Olympic Athletics team

Ciara Mageean (1500m), Thomas Barr (400H), Kevin Seaward (marathon), Mick Clohisey (marathon), Paul Pollock (marathon), Kerry O'Flaherty (3000m steeplechase), Michelle Finn (3000m steeplechase), Sara Treacy (3000m steeplechase), Tori Pena (Pole Vault), Fionnuala McCormack (10,000m/marathon), Lizzie Lee (marathon), Breege Connolly (marathon), Mark English (800m), Alex Wright (20K/50K walk), Robert Heffernan (50K walk), Brendan Boyce (50K walk), Ciara Everard (800m)

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