The third round of the inaugural National Cyclo-cross series took place on Wednesday 28 December 2022 at the McCrystal Track in County Louth. There were 256 entries so this was a good test for the upcoming National Cyclo-cross Championships which are due to take place at this venue on 14/15 January 2023. The weather was forecast to be wet and the forecasters got that right. The rain started before the racing did. However, it did stop raining for the afternoon races.
The first race of the day was for the Under 6s with the young riders taking on two laps of a short course. All received a water bottle with sweets inside!
The Under 8s started from the bottom of the gravel path. They had 2 laps of their course to complete. Daithi Hughes (Square Wheels) won the boys’ race with Jaxon Jennings (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) and Conor McGahan (Square Wheels) finishing second and third respectively. Ríonach Campbell (Square Wheels) won the girls’ race when she crossed the line ahead of Robyn McDermott (Un-Attached Leinster) and Marian Mulvaney (Sliabh Luachra Cycling Club).
The Under 10s started from the same location but they had 4 laps to complete of their course. Benjamin Cunningham (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) stormed to victory in the boys’ race. Jack McGahan (Square Wheels) finished second with Max McGrath (Fermoy Cycling Club) taking third. Aoife Campbell (Square Wheels) was the first girl and crossed the line just behind the top 3 boys. Molly Turner (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) was second with Caroline Collins (Sliabh Luachra Cycling Club) third.
The Under 12s course took in the hill so it was a proper challenge for these riders. The boys’ race saw 17 riders line up at the start line. Eunan Campbell (Square Wheels) was the best of these taking the chequered flag after 5 laps. Rory McCool (Square Wheels) had to work hard to stay in front of Dáire O’Flaherty (Carlow RCC) as they finished second and third respectively. Laoise Crinion (IMBRC) was the first girl home. Lilly McDermott (Un-Attached Leinster) was second with Rose Linehan (Sliabh Luachra Cycling Club) third.
After a short break for practice time, it was the turn of the Under 14s and Under 16s. These were the first of the national series category races. Continuing his run of good form, Conor Murphy (Rostrevor Mountain Bike Club) powered around the full course for 3 laps to take the win in the Under 16 boys’ race. Curtis McKee (Scott Bright Motor Group) was second with Cameron Henry (Inspired Cycling) third. In the Under 16 girls’ race Greta Lawless (Team WORC) took advantage of an error by Aliyah Rafferty (Island Wheelers) to take the win. Aliyah fought hard to close the gap on Greta but had to settle for second place. Faith Robinson (Bray Wheelers) was third. In the Under 14 boys’ race there was the usual close contest between Rian McCrystal (Bellurgan Wheelers) and Caleb McGreevy (VC Glendale) with Rian taking the win ahead of Caleb. Fionn Crinion (IMBRC) completed the podium. In the Under 14 girls’ race Emer Heverin (Kinning Cycles Cycling Club) was cruising in first place but then a crash had her running with the bike back to the pit. She managed to keep her lead though finishing ahead of Aoife Craig (VC Glendale) with Katie Turner (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) taking third place.
There was another break for practice and then the Junior men, Women, M50s, M60s and B’ race men lined up on the start line. In the Junior men’s race Liam O’Brien (Fermoy Cycling Club), the current national champion, proved himself still the best by taking the win. Joseph Mullen (Navan Road Club) was second with Travis Harkness (VC Glendale) third. Tadhg Killeen (Kilcullen Cycling Club Murphy Geospacial) was fourth with Adam Rafferty (US Colomiers) fifth. The women’s race was also won by a current national champion with Chicago resident Maria Larkin (Cuttin Crew/Donkey Label) taking the win ahead of Stephanie Roche (Scott Bright Motor Group) with Caoimhe May (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) third. Michelle Geoghegan was fourth and took the unplaced masters prize. Lucy Brown (Phoenix CC) took the unplaced Junior prize.
The M50s race saw the World Masters Champion, Robin Seymour (Team WORC), take a very comfortable win. Crossing the line around 3½ minutes later was Jason Henry (Inspired Cycling) with Colm McGarvey (EPIC MTB/Expert Cycles) snatching third place from Declan McEntee (Emyvale CC) on the last lap. In the M60s race it was current national champion Johnny McCabe (Cuchulainn CC) who took the win ahead of Paul Birchall (Verge Sport PI Cycles) with Derek King (Apollo Cycling Team) taking third place. In the Men’s B’ race Eoin Stephens (Team Giant Dublin) beat his clubmate David Ryan (Team Giant Dublin).
The final race of the day was for the Senior men and M40 men. Dean Harvey (Spellman-Dublin Port) lead the 7 lap Senior men’s race from start to finish. Darren Rafferty (Un-attached Ulster) was holding second place until he crashed heavily on his 5th lap and had to retire. This let Darnell Moore (Team Caldwell Cycles) slip up into second place and Kevin McCambridge (Un-Attached Ulster) into third. Jamie Meehan (Spellman-Dublin Port) finished fourth with Graham Boyd (McConvey Cycles) fifth. In the M40s race there was the usual tussle between Glenn Kinning (Kinning Cycles Cycling Club) and Alan Bingham (Newry Wheelers CC). Both were wheel to wheel for the early laps until Glenn pulled away and took the win. Alan had to settle for second with Barry Kellett (Dromara Cycling Club) finishing third. David O’Neill (Inspired Cycling) was fourth and Evan Ryan (Team WORC) was fifth.
Many thanks to all the volunteers for helping to run the race today. There was a lot of standing around in heavy rain. The 4th and final round of the national series takes place on Saturday 7 January 2023 at CyclocrossNI in Portadown.
Commissaires: Jim Adams and Martin Grimley
Results (PDF) here
Series table after 3 rounds here
Report by Martin Grimley