The 2018 Irish National Youth Cyclo-cross Championships took place at Knockbracken Reservoir in Carryduff, a suburb of Belfast. This was only the second year that the Youth CX Championships has been run and it is encouraging to see this youth event establish itself in the calendar. Along with the championship categories for the Under 14s and Under 16s was a full complement of support races for the Under 6s up to the Under 12s.
Host club Dromara CC were delighted to get the opportunity to use this private site which has been developed by Peter Boyle, owner of jewellery chain Argento, for Kayaking and other water sports. The event was sponsored by the local shopping centre Forestside who also supplied the catering for the day. Sign on and catering were housed in the recently refurbished building on site. The weather remained dry all day with strong winds blowing across the site making for some challenging racing.
There were two courses laid out for the young racers. On the upper part of the site, near the car park, was the course for the Under 6s, 8s and 10s. The Under 12s, 14s and 16s used the lower part of the site near the water’s edge which took in the perimeter of the site completing a clockwise loop around the reservoir.
The first race of the day was for the Under 6s who had just one lap to complete. The grass was getting quite slippy for the 13 riders, 9 boys and 4 girls, but they all managed to get round either under their own power or with the occasional support from family.
Next up were the Under 8s who had to complete 4 laps of a slightly longer loop. Ryan McBride (Banbridge CC) took the win in the boys’ race with a good gap over his nearest competitor Darragh Murphy (Rostrevor Mountain Bike Club). Josh McClune (Team Madigan) finished 3rd despite falling and having to complete the rest of the race with twisted handlebars. Aoife Craig (VC Glendale) won the girls’ race and also managed to finish 3rd overall among the boys. Neala Moohan finished second.
The Under 10s used the same course as the Under 8s but had twice as many laps to do. Host club rider James Armstrong (Dromara CC) stormed around the course to finish well clear of his nearest rival Jamie Rockett (Ards CC). Mark Molloy (Dunloy CC) completed the boys’ podium. Emer Heverin (Kinning Cycles) won the Under 10 girls’ race as she pulled away from Aisling Smyth (Apollo CT) with Poppy Hamilton (Shimna Wheelers) finishing third.
Action now moved down to the lower course with the Under 12s lined up on the opposite side of the reservoir. The Under 12s course was slightly different to the main course as they avoided the steep grassy embankment at the back of the reservoir and they also avoided the steps on the final section of the course. An equal gender split in this age category with 8 boys and 8 girls lined up. The Under 12 boys race was an exciting affair with Seth Dunwoody (Orchard CC) and Conor Murphy (Rostrvor Mountain Bike Club) approching the finish line side by side with Seth just pulling ahead to cross the line. Oisin May (Scott Orwell Wheelers) finished third. The girls’ race was much more spaced out with Aliyah Rafferty (Island Wheelers) finishing over 2½ minutes ahead of Cara Moffitt (Phoenix CC) with fellow club member Lucy Brown (Phoenix CC) completing the podium.
The National Championship category races got started at 1 pm. The Under 14 girls and the Under 16 girls were lining up for 5 laps of the full course. Annie Roche (Scott Orwell Wheelers Club) finished well clear of her nearest rivals in the Under 14 girls’ race. Behind Annie was a close battle for second place between Erin Creighton (Xmtb) and Hannah Mullin (Trail Demons CC) with Erin just getting ahead on the final lap to take the silver medal with Hannah having to settle for bronze. In the Under 16 girls’ race Lucy O’Donnell (O’Leary Stone Kanturk) lead from the start and build up a one minute gap to second place Caoimhe May (Scott Orwell Wheelers) with Darcey Harkness (Carn Wheelers) finishing third.
The final race of the day was for the Under 14 boys and Under 16 boys. In the Under 14 boys race it was Conal Scully (Carlow RCC) who lead from start to finish to take the title. Conor Gallagher (Errigal CC) finished second with Adam Rafferty (Island Wheelers) third.
The Under 16 boys’ race was very exciting with Ciaran Dixon (McConvey Cycles) and Darren Rafferty (Island Wheelers) racing through the finish line each lap wheel to wheel. A great expectation was building up as to who would appear first around the final corner before the line. In the end Darren had pulled away from Ciaran to take the title with Ciaran having to settle for silver. Bronze went to Donal Walsh (AAA Cycling).
After the races the riders, family members and spectators were able to head back to the main building for refreshments and the podium ceremony. The National Championship medals were presented by Anthony Mitchell, board member of Cycling Ireland.
Dromara CC wish to thank the site owner and management team for their support, Forestside Shopping Centre for the sponsorship and catering, the Cycling Ireland events crew and the team of volunteers who came along to help set up the course.
Commissaire: Lisa Millar
Report by Martin Grimley