The 2020 National Cyclo-cross championships kicked off with the Youth championships on Saturday 11 January at a great site at Enniscrone in County Sligo. Host club Ballina CC have been hard at work created a great course using the many grass banks. The course was held around the edges of a wide expanse of grass with historic monuments on the top of the hills. Spectators were able to see almost all of othe course from one vantage point. However, the night before the race took place there was torrential rain which turned a great riding course into a very muddy one. On race day there was light rain to start but it did dry up to leave a mild day.
Up first were the non-championship support races for Under 6s, Under 8s, Under 10s and Under 12s. The Under 6s ‘fun’ race was held on a short course at the back of the rugby pitch. The young riders lined up, with supporting parents, to complete two short laps of this course. All received a medal at the end.
The Under 8s took on 2 laps of the lower course. Daragh Quigley (Foyle CC) chalked up another win in the boys’ race with Jack McGahan (Square Wheels) second and Will Sunderland (Apollo CT) third. Aoife Campbell (Square Wheels) finished well clear of Cassie Rocks (Island Wheelers) with Alia Harris (Bray Wheelers) finishing third.
The Under 10s used the same course as the Under 8s but they had 4 laps to complete. Eunan Campbell (Square Wheels) put on a fine display of racing to take the win ahead of Darragh Murphy (Rostrevor Mountain Bike Club), who had lead at the end of lap 1, with Rory Mulhearne (Un-Attached Munster) taking third place. Clodagh Quigley (Foyle CC) finished well clear of second place Skye Spence (Shimna Wheelers Cycling Club) with Kate O’Meara (Unattached) completing the podium for the girls.
The Under 12s course took in one of the hill sections which was fairly challenging. James Armstrong (Dromara Cycling Club) lead the boys’ race from start to finish. Second place went to Hugh Og Mulhearne (Panduit Carrick Wheelers) with third going to Darragh Ryan (Biking.ie). Visiting GB rider, Ciara Bakovic (Sutton Cycling Club), took the win in the girls’ race with Aisha Gannon (Breffni Wheelers) second and Elizabeth Sunderland (Apollo CT) third.
At noon the first of the championship races took place with the Under 14 and Under 16 girls lined up at the start line. Their race involved 3 laps of the full course. A proper challenge with lots of running sections. Aine Doherty (VC Glendale) was leading the Under 14s race at the end of lap 1 but she got caught up in tape and dropped back to leave an impressive Aliyah Rafferty (Island Wheelers) to storm ahead and take the win. Aine took second with Erin McCormack (Ballina Cycling Club) taking third. Favourite to win the Under 16s race was Annie Roche (Scott Quanta Racing) and she met that expectation with a great win. Erin Creighton (McConvey Cycles) finished second with Katie Reilly (Quanta Scott Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) third.
At 1 pm the Under 14 and Under 16 boys took to the start line for their championship race. They also faced 3 laps of the full course. There was a tight group of riders at the front of the Under 16s race with Adam Gilsenan (Bohermeen CC),
Liam O’Brien (Fermoy Cycling Club), Niall McLoughlin (McConvey Cycles) and Conal Scully (Carlow RCC) in the mix. At the end of lap 3 it was Niall McLoughlin who had pulled away from the others to take an impressive win. You could tell it meant a lot to him as he roared with joy crossing the line. Adam Gilsenan took second with Liam O’Brien third and Conal Scully fourth. In the Under 14 boys race Conor Murphy (Rostrevor Mountain Bike Club) was way out in front for the whole of the race. Joseph Mullen (Navan Road Club) took second with Samuel Coleman (Shelbourne/Orchard CC) third.
After the youth races the course was opened for practice for the Juniors, Seniors and Masters who are racing the next day. Well done to all the young riders, their parents and all the spectators today. Many thanks to the host club and to their sponsors.
Report by Martin Grimley
Commissaires: Gary McIlroy, Lisa Millar, Jim Adams and Martin Grimley