The first round of the inaugural Irish National Cyclo-cross Series took place on Saturday 20 November 2022 at the Country House Hotel in Westport. This was the first time that host club, Westport Covey Wheelers Cycling Club, were given access to the hotel grounds to create the course. The grounds are the home of Footgolf Mayo, a 36 acre site in front of the hotel. Registration was held inside the hotel with tea/coffee and snacks available. All races started on the stone lane in front of the hotel, before turning onto the grass beside a small stone building. The riders then went through the gate and into the main event area of the course. In this main section was the finish line and all youth races were kept inside this one area. The Under 14s and older age groups left this area through another gate at the top of the hill before heading around the boundary of the estate. Part of the main course took the riders out onto the road which brought them into the entrance road of the hotel and back onto the course.
The host club had the course set up in the days leading up to the race. The weather in the lead up to the race was good and the riders turning up on the morning of the event were treated to a wonderful red sunrise. The forecasted rain did arrive around 10 am but the showers were mostly light. There was, however, an increase in the wind around noon which put the gazebos under a lot of strain. The wind dropped later in the day and there was even a bright rainbow during the final race as the dark clouds had then passed.
The first race of the day was for the Under 8s with a single Under 6 rider at the back. The 7 riders had a short race from the road to the finish line.
The next race was for the Under 10s. They had 8 laps of the short course within the main event field. Max McGrath (Fermoy Cycling Club) was leading after lap 1 but Benjamin Cunningham (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) got to the front on lap 2 and held the lead until the finish. Max finished second with Jake McKee (VC Glendale) taking third. In the girls’ race, Caroline Collins (Sliabh Luachra Cycling Club) lead from start to finish with Molly Turner (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) second, Aoife O’Mahony (Sliabh Luachra Cycling Club) third and Eabhan Gardner (Westport Covey Wheelers Cycling Club) fourth.
The Under 12s course was around a half lap of the main course. James Cunningham (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) put on a strong performance to win the boys’ race with Ronan Patrick McCarthy (MBCC) second and Fiachra Gardner (Westport Covey Wheelers Cycling Club) third, much to the delight of his sister, Éabhan Gardner, who was waving the chequered flag for him at the finish line. Aoife Killeen (Kilcullen Cycling Club Murphy Geospacial) was the first U12 girl to finish with Rose Linehan (Sliabh Luachra Cycling Club) second.
The next race was for the Under 14s and Under 16s which were held on the full course. Caleb McGreevy (VC Glendale) had a great battle with Rian McCyrstal (Bellurgan Wheelers) in the Under 14 boys’ race. Caleb did manage to get a gap on Rian to finish first and second respectively. Shane O’Brien (Fermoy Cycling Club) finished third. Katie Turner (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) won the Under 14 girls’ race when she finished ahead of Emma Edmundson, Lauren Clarke and Noe Kelly, all three from the host club Westport Covey Wheelers.
In the Under 16 boys’ race Conor Murphy (Rostrevor Mountain Bike Club) put on a powerful display to lead from start to finish. Curtis McKee (Scott Bright Motor Group) was second with David Gaffney (Dungarvan CC) third, Cameron Henry (Inspired Cycling) fourth, Hugh Og Mulhearne (Panduit Carrick Wheelers) fifth and Jack Woods (Carlow RCC) sixth. Greta Lawless (Team WORC) and Aliyah Rafferty (Island Wheelers) had a great battle for the win in the Under 16 girls’ race with Great getting the better of Aliyah by 3 seconds. Kate Murphy (Sliabh Luachra Cycling Club) finished third with Cara Suckling (VC Glendale) fourth.
The next race was for the Junior men, Women, M50 men, M60 men and then the Men’s B’ race. All races were held over 5 laps of the full course. The Junior mens’ race was very exciting with the top 5 crossing the line together at the end of lap 1. Joseph Mullen (Navan Road Club) got to the front of this bunch and drove the pace. Joseph finished around 25 seconds ahead of his nearest rival Travis Harkness (VC Glendale). Tadhg Killeen (Kilcullen Cycling Club Murphy Geospacial) was third with Seth Dunwoody (Shelbourne/Orchard CC) fourth and Cal Tutty (Dungarvan CC) fifth.
In the Women’s race Junior rider Aine Doherty (VC Glendale) and Grace Young (All human/VeloRevolution Racing Team) were together for the first 3 laps until Aine managed to get ahead of Grace and went on to take the win. Grace finished second with Caoimhe May (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) third. The Roche sisters, Stephanie and Annie, both with Scott Bright Motor Group, finished fourth and fifth respectively with Doireann Killeen (Kilcullen Cycling Club Murphy Geospacial) sixth. The first unplaced masters was Sienna O’Dwyer (Limerick Cycling Club).
Jason Henry (Inspired Cycling) set out his stall early in the M50 men’s race and took the win. Fearghal Regan (Kilcullen Cycling Club Murphy Geospacial) was second with Pierre Kinsella (Breffni Wheelers) third and David McKee (VC Glendale) fourth. There were only 3 riders in the M60 men’s race with the youngest, David Lawless (Team WORC), taking the win ahead of Paul Birchall (Verge Sport PI Cycles) with Noel Brady (Westport Covey Wheelers Cycling Club) taking the final spot on the podium.
There were 15 riders in the Men’s B’ race with Michael Davis (Greenmount CA) taking the win ahead of Jakub Klapa (Challenge Cycling Club) with Paul Geraghty (Westport Covey Wheelers Cycling Club) taking third.
The final race of the day was for the Senior Men and M40 men. Dean Harvey (Spellman-Dublin Port) and Darren Rafferty (Un-attached Ulster) were tee’ing up the spectators to a great battle but Darren ran into mechanical issues on lap 3 and dropped well done the field. This left Dean to run away with the win. Kevin McCambridge (Un-Attached Ulster) finished second with JB Murphy (Kilcullen Cycling Club Murphy Geospacial) winning the battle between himself and Darragh McCarter (Spellman-Dublin Port) for third place. Darragh had to settle for fourth with Richard Maes (All human/VeloRevolution Racing Team) fifth and Jamie Meehan (Spellman-Dublin Port) taking sixth.
Alan Bingham (Newry Wheelers CC) was out on his own at the front of the M40 men’s race putting on a fine display of cycling. Ronan Killeen (Lucan Cycling Road Club) was second with Evan Ryan (Team WORC) third and Damien Creighton (Ballina Cycling Club) fourth.
A huge thanks to Westport Covey Wheelers Cycling Club for hosting this event, the first of its kind in Ireland and at a new venue. Hopefully we can get back to this great site in the future. Round 2 is on Saturday 26 November 2022 and will be held at Upperchurch Drombane GAA Grounds, Ballynira, Drombane. The link to register can be found here.
Commissaires: Loch Miwa, Ray Staunton and Martin Grimley
Results (PDF) here
Report by Martin Grimley
Sean Rowe (Facebook)