The 2023 National Youth Cyclo-cross Championships took place on Saturday 14 January 2023 at McCrystal’s Track in County Louth. This superb private track had been enhanced from the last race back on 28 December with the addition of red netting which made the place feel more like the World Cup track we had in Dublin in 2022. There was a great turnout of riders across both the non-championship and championship categories. There was wet weather overnight which left the track muddy but rideable. The weather on the day was mostly dry with some winter sunshine and just the odd shower.
Racing began at 10:20 with the non-championship races, firstly the Under 6s. There were 12 young riders lined up for 2 laps of a short course. There were a few crashes on the circuit but all riders made it to the finish line.
Next up were the Under 8s. They started on the main track at the start of the finish line straight. The boys started on the first whistle, the girls on the second whistle. Leading from start to finish in this 2 lap race was Jaxon Jennings (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) with Conor McGahan (Square Wheels) and Daithi Hughes (Square Wheels) completing the boys’ podium. Ríonach Campbell (Square Wheels) also lead from start to finish. Eabha Connolly (Square Wheels) was second with Marian Mulvaney (Sliabh Luachra Cycling Club) third.
The Under 10s started from the same location as the Under 8s but they had 4 laps of their course to complete. As expected Benjamin Cunningham (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) powered around the course and finished with a comfortable lead over Jack McGahan (Square Wheels). Max McGrath (Fermoy Cycling Club) was third. In the girl’s race Aoife Campbell (Square Wheels) put on another fine performance to take the chequered flag. Molly Turner (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) was second with Caroline Collins (Sliabh Luachra Cycling Club) third.
James Cunningham (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) was on form in the Under 12s boys’ race. Eunan Campbell (Square Wheels) chased James across the 5 laps but couldn’t get close enough to pass him. Rory McCool (Square Wheels) had a great battle with Noah Byrne (Carlow RCC) to finish 3rd and 4th respectively. Laoise Crinion (IMBRC) smiled all the way round the course, and rightly so as she took the win. Eire McCrystal (Bellurgan Wheelers) finished second with Rose Linehan (Sliabh Luachra Cycling Club) third
The first of the championship category races started at noon with the Under 14 girls and Under 16 girls. Both had 3 laps to complete. Emer Heverin (Kinning Cycles Cycling Club) crossed the line first in the Under 14 girls race. Aoife Craig (VC Glendale) got off to a bad start with a mechanical issue within the first minute but managed to get back through the crowd to finish second. Katie Turner (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) was third with Orla Mulhearne (Panduit Carrick Wheelers) fourth and taking the first unplaced Under 13 prize.
In the Under 16 girl’s there was the expected battle between Aliyah Rafferty (Island Wheelers) and Greta Lawless (Team WORC) but Aliyah was not hanging around and put in very strong effort to finish well ahead of Greta. Faith Robinson (Bray Wheelers) was third. Cara Suckling (VC Glendale) picked up the first unplaced U15 prize.
The final race of the day took place at 1:10 pm with the Under 14 boys and Under 16 boys. Both had 3 laps to complete. All eyes were on the usual battle between Caleb McGreevy (VC Glendale) and Rian McCrystal (Bellurgan Wheelers). These two have pushed each other all season. Caleb was leading for the first 2 laps but Rian put in a very strong last lap (the fastest of all the Under 14s) and took the win. This was to a great applause as this circuit is his home ground. Caleb wasn’t far behind Rian with Fionn Crinion (IMBRC) third. Josh McClune (Team Madigan C.C.) finished fourth and picked up the first unplaced Under 13 prize.
The Under 16 boys’ race was expected to be dominated by Conor Murphy (Rostrevor Mountain Bike Club) and he didn’t disappoint. His rivals were well spread out behind him. David Gaffney (Dungarvan CC) finished second with Curtis McKee (Scott Bright Motor Group) third. Ryan Daly (Scott Bright Motor Group) was fourth and picked up the first unplaced Under 15 prize. There were enough teams entered for a team prize which went to Scott Bright Motor Group when Oisin May joined Curtis and Ryan at the finish.
Well done to all riders and a big thanks to Bellurgan Wheelers and friends who put on the race.
Some selected photos to round off the report
The first of 3 “BP travel award” for teams or clubs (development of their youth as main goal) have been given to Sliabh Luachra CC from Mallow (Co-Cork) This bunch are traveling all corners of the land to give their youngsters a chance to experience our sport…so well done !! The 2 other awards (Square Wheels CC & TC Racing) will be handed over in the next few weeks…The bursary and graduation awards will be announced in June….