European Championships 2018: Kevin Seaward top Irish marathon finisher in 15th

Kevin Seaward (second from left) and his Ireland team-mate Sean Hehir (right) during the men's marathon in Berlin
Kevin Seaward (second from left) was the top Irish finisher in the two marathons in Berlin

Belfast man Kevin Seaward followed up his fourth place in the Commonwealth Games marathon with a creditable 15th spot at the European Championships.

Seaward (2:16.58) and Mick Clohisey (18th in 2:18:00) were Ireland's only top-20 finishers.

Corkwoman Lizzie Lee (2:40.12) was the leading Irishwoman in 29th as Breege Connolly (2:41.53) finished 31st with Gladys Ganiel (2:42.42) 33rd.

Paul Pollock (2:23.36) struggled as he crossed the finishing line in 47th.

The Irish men finished sixth in the team competition, helped by Seaward's fine run.

"I'm really happy with that today. I though top ten, top 15 would be a good finish," said Seaward.

"I always try to perform to rank or better when going into a race and I knew with a sensible race today I could do that. Well done to all the lads on the team today."

Seaward's time left him just over seven minutes behind Belgium's winner Koen Naert who clocked 2:09.51.

The Belgian finished almost a minute ahead of Switzerland's Eritrean-born Tadesse Abrahm (2:11.24) with Italy's Yassin Rachik a further 45 seconds back in third place.

Gladys Ganiel clocked 2:42.42 in Berlin - just under five minutes outside her personal best
Gladys Ganiel finished 33rd in the women's marathon in Berlin

The 34-year-old Belfast man ran a typically well judged race to move up the field after half distance.

Clohisey and Hehir performed well as they both bettered two hours and 19 minutes with Sergiu Ciobanu clocking 2:19.49 to take 36th place.

After being Ireland's best finisher at the Olympics Games as he clocked 2:16.25 to take 32nd, Pollock would have hoped for a similar time in the German capital but he was always struggling in Sunday's race.

Leitrim native Connolly, 40, was fourth minutes and 29 outside her personal best set last year while Ganiel, 41, was a similar margin outside her lifetime best.

Another Northern Ireland runner Laura Graham was forced to pull out of the women's event in midweek because of injury.

Belarus' Volha Mazuronak took the women's gold in 2:26.22 which left her six seconds ahead of France's Clemence Calvin with Eva Vrabcova-Nyvltova setting a new Czech record in 2:26.31.

The temperature of 23 centigrade in Berlin was probably not ideal for marathon running although the humidity levels were not particularly high in the German capital.