A challenging XC course at Union Wood

The fifth and final round of the 2017 Irish Cross-country Mountain Bike National Point Series (NPS) took place on the west of Ireland at Union Wood, located between the towns of Collooney and Ballysadare in County Sligo. This was the second year that host club Northwest MTB had ran an NPS and they had made some great improvements to the course in that time.

As before, there was quite a hike from sign on to the start line which was located up a climb into the main body of the forest. The riders started on the fire road before setting off onto the various courses that had been designed for each age category. The track was dry on the morning of the race but during the day the grey clouds started to add some rain to the area with a full downpour during the 2 pm races which turned the fast dry course into a tricky, slippery one.

For the youth riders though, race day was dry. Starting off in the morning was a race for the Under 6s which saw 13 boys and 3 girls taking on the short course.

Next up were the Under 8s which had 8 boys and 4 girls taking part. Kevin Randall (Scott Orwell Wheelers) took the win in the boys’ race as he finished ahead of Darragh Murphy (Rostrevor MTB) with Evan Wynne (Foyle CC) third.  Kevin and Darragh finished first and second in the overall NPS league table.  In the girls’ race Anna Cobbe (IMBRC) was first with Poppy Hamilton (Shimna Wheelers) second and Lucy McCarthy (MBCC) third.  Lucy finished first in the overall league table with Poppy second.

The Under 10s then lined up at the start line. This was the first round of the NPS that Aliyah Rafferty (Island Wheelers) was able to attend but her dominance of the Ulster XC series carried over as she finished first in the U10 girls’ race. Faith Robinson (Bray Wheelers), the current leader of the series, was second with Hannah O’Keefe (Epic MTB) third.   The overall series table finished with Faith at the top followed by Hannah then Maria O’Shea (IMBRC).

In the boys’ Under 10s race Oisin May (Unattached) got his third win of the series with Conor Murphy (Rostrevor MTB) second and Daragh Saunders (Orwell Wheelers) third.  The overall league finished with Oisin first, Conor second and Harry Hobbs (VC Glendale) third.

Luke Murphy (Killarney CC) went into this round as leader of the Under 12 boys’ series and rounded off his great season with his 4th win out of 5 rounds. Adam Rafferty (Island Wheelers) finished second with Oisin Ferrity (Island Wheelers) third. Luke’s biggest rival Travis Harkness (Carn Wheelers) only managed 5th today.   The overall league finished with Luke 1st, Travis 2nd and Oisin 3rd.  Hannah Mullin (Trail Demons CC) was the only entrant in the Under 12 girls’ race.  Aine Doherty (VC Glendale) won the overall league with Hannah 2nd.

After the usual break once the Under 12s race finished, the next set of races took place around 12 noon. This was for the Under 14s, Under 16s, Senior 4 men and Senior 2 women. In the Under 14 boys race, current series leader Dean Harvey (Kinning Cycles) was not having a good day with two crashes which kept him off the podium. Instead it was a tight race between Donnacha Desmond, Fionn Desmond (both from MBCC) and Darren Rafferty (Island Wheelers). With only seconds between them Donnacha crossed the line first with Darren second and Fionn third. In the Under 14 girls’ race Caoimhe May (Scott Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) did her usual stunt of taking off like a hare from the start line and finishing well clear of her nearest rivals, in this case Erin Creighton (XMTB) who finished second with Annie Roche (Scott Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) finishing ahead of Aoife Finnerty (Ballina Cycling Club). For the overall league the Under 14 boys table finished with Dean Harvey first, Donnacha Desmond second and Fionn Desmond third. In the Under 14 girls’ overall league, the top 3 riders were Caoimhe May, Erin Creighton and Annie Roche.

In the Under 16 boys race there was a lot more than the race day trophies up for grabs as the overall series was very tight on points with Harry Byrne (EPIC MTB / Expert Cycles) leading the series with 88 points and Adam McGarr (Biking.ie) and Lee Harvey (Kinning Cycles) both on 85 points. On the day it was a battle between Lee and Adam with Adam pulling away from Lee to take the win by 7 seconds. Harry finished third. For the overall league it finished Adam, Lee and Harvey. In the Under 16 girls race Niamh McKiverigan (Powerhouse Sport) continued her run of form taking the win ahead of Darcey Harkness (Carn Wheelers) with Amanda Draper (MBCC) third ahead of Miriam Draper (MBCC). The overall league for the Under 16 girls finished in the same order, Niamh, Darcey, Amanda and Miriam.

There was a small turn out in the Senior 4 men’s race with just 6 riders taking to the start line. Maurice Moran (EPIC MTB / Expert Cycles) took the win ahead of Darren McGann (West Coast Wheelers) with Mark Graham (Northwest MTB) third. In the Senior 2 women’s race Niamh McGreen (MAD MTB), the current series leader, took her third win of the series as she finished ahead of Katrin Parsons (Galway MTB) with Emma Convey (Unattached Leinster) finishing third ahead of Sinead Hynes (Galway MTB).

After another break to allow riders to practice the course, the next set of competitors lined up at the bottom of the fire road. First away were the Senior 1 men followed by the single entry, Thomas Creighton (McConvey Cycles) in the Junior men. Next away were the Senior 2 men and Senior 3 men’s categories. In the Senior 3 men’s race Oisin Mooney (Eire Og C.C.) took the win ahead of Paul Donnan (Team WORC) with David Meredith (EPIC MTB / Expert Cycles) third. Emil Tyszecki (MBCC) finished fourth today but that was enough to secure the top place for him in the Senior 3 category in the overall league. Paul Donnan was second overall with David Meredith third.

In the 4 lap Senior 2 men’s race, Brian Melia (Team WORC) crossed the line first ahead of Clive Caldwell (VTT) with Feidhlim Dignan (Cunga CC) third. For the overall league table, Clive Caldwell finished first ahead of Chris Mollaghan (Team WORC) with Brian Meila (Team WORC) third.

Finally in the 5 lap Senior 1 men’s race Gareth McKee (Cycleology MTB) put on another fine disply of bike riding, given the worsening conditions to take the win. David Conroy (Scott – Eurocycles.com) enjoyed the slippery conditions to take a well deserved second place ahead of Lindsay Watson (Powerhouse Sport). Gareth Hegarty (Scott Eurocycles.com) continued to impress with his 4th place which was enough to secure this overall win of the series. The returning star, Brian Steele (Shimna Wheelers Cycling Club) finished 5th with cross-country co-ordinator Maciej Staroniewicz (EPIC MTB / Expert Cycles) 6th. Missing from the top 6 were Tomasz Michalski (McConvey Cycles) who broke his chain on the start line and Graham Boyd (McConvey Cycles) who punctured just after the pit area and would have had to run the whole course to get a new wheel. The series finished with Gareth Hegarty first, Gareth McKee second and Tomasz Michalski third.

Many thanks to the hard working crew at Northwest MTB club. It was a great shame that the attendance level was so low for such a great event at a great venue. Many thanks to the sponsors of the series, Kellys Bike Company, Spin 11 clothing and Elite Timing.

The Irish National Cross-country Championships will be held on Sunday 23 July at Djouce Woods, Co. Wicklow. Registration is open and will close on Monday 17 July at 8 pm. NO ENTRIES ON THE DAY OR AFTER THE CLOSING DATE FOR CHAMPIONSHIP CATEGORIES.

Report by Martin Grimley

Commissaire Maciej Staroniewicz

Results here

Overall league results table – to follow.

Photos by Bryan Conlon (Facebook) – here

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