The final round (5th) of the Ulster CX League was held yesterday (Sun 3rd Dec) at the Palace Demesne grounds Armagh, and hosted by Square Wheels CC. For once no rain, and the bitter cold conditions didn’t stop the battles for the overal standings in each race!! A indept report from Martin Grimley, with full results included!!
The fifth and final round of the 2023 Ulster Cyclo-cross Series took place on Sunday 3 December at Palace Demesne in Armagh. This was the 6th year host club Square Wheels CC has held a round of the series at this venue. The venue had played host to the National Cyclo-cross Championships in January 2022. That was a very muddy affair which has scarred many riders! Thankfully this year the course conditions were much better. The club would like to thank Armagh, Banbridge & Craigavon Council for their continued support of the race. As per previous years, there were two separate courses. In the garden in front of the former bishop’s palace were the circuits for the Under 6s, 8s, 10s and 12s. Out in the main park was the full course for all other race categories. This year the registration gazebo was moved into the race village beside the podium and coffee van. The event attracted just over 150 riders. Missing were some of the regulars who were over at the World Masters Cyclo-cross Championships in Hamburg, Germany. Alan Bingham finished 25th out of 87 in the 50-54 age group, Des Woods had finished 20th out of 59 in the 55-59 age group but taking the top step on the podium was Johnny McCabe in the 65-69 age group. A World Champion! Congratulation Johnny.(photo below of Sean Rowe)
Back to this event. The club had benefitted from some dry weather in the lead up to the race. Race day morning was a cold start with freezing fog in places. In Armagh the temperature was just above freezing. It did stay dry all day with little wind. The sun did make an appearance for the final race of the day but there wasn’t much heat from it. The hot drinks from Last Lap Café were welcomed. The racing began with the Under 6s who had 2 laps of a short course to complete.
The 8 young riders were rewarded with a goodie bag from Santa who made a special visit. Santa stayed on to ring the bell for last lap for the Under 8s, 10s and 12s and to provide gifts for all the young riders in these age groups. Santa was also handing out the medals for the podium.
The Under 8s had 2 laps to complete of their course. This included a dismount section. Daithi Hughes (Square Wheels) won the boys’ race, his fourth win of the series which left him as the series winner. Jack Corey (Apollo Cycling Team) was second with Séan McGahan (Square Wheels) third. In the girls’ race Ríonach Campbell (Square Wheels) took the win and was second finisher overall. Chloe Eagleson-McKenna (Un-Attached Ulster) was second with Sarah McKeegan (Team Madigan C.C.) third. Ríonach wins the overall series.
Overall series winners in the Under 8s: Boys 1-Daithi Hughes (Square Wheels) 2-James Kavanagh (Lakeland) 3-Jack Corey (Apollo Cycling Team) Girls 1-Ríonach Campbell (Square Wheels) 2-Sally Mowbray (Belfast City BMX Club) 3-Sarah McKeegan (Team Madigan C.C.)
The Under 10s had 4 laps to complete of their course. In the boys’ race Lewis Bell (Lisburn BMX Club) crossed the line first, his third win of the series which gifts him the overall series prize. Conor McGahan (Square Wheels) was second with Jake O’Donovan (Strabane Lifford Cycling Club) third. In the girls’ race Ruby Millar (Square Wheels) had a clean sweep of wins across all 5 rounds. Ciara McCool (Square Wheels) was second with Fiadh Craig (VC Glendale) third.
Overall series winners in the Under 10s: Boys 1-Lewis Bell (Lisburn BMX Club) 2-Conor McGahan (Square Wheels) 3-Leo Gallagher (Shelbourne/Orchard CC) Girls 1-Ruby Millar (Square Wheels) 2-Eabha Connolly (Square Wheels) 3-Fiadh Craig (VC Glendale)
The Under 12s course was longer again, up the hill at the back of the garden, and they had 5 laps to complete. Jack McGahan (Square Wheels) powered around the course to take a comfortable win. His nearest rival was the first girl, Aoife Campbell (Square Wheels) who finished second overall. Second boy to finish was William Sunderland (Lisburn BMX Club) with Billy Lord (Breffni Wheelers) back on the podium again in third place. Second placed girl was Amelia Finnegan (Square Wheels) with Erin Corey (Apollo Cycling Team) finishing third.
Overall series winners in the Under 12s: Boys 1-Jack McGahan (Square Wheels) 2-William Sunderland (Lisburn BMX Club) 3-Billy Lord (Breffni Wheelers) Girls 1-Aoife Campbell (Square Wheels) 2-Amelia Finnegan (Square Wheels) 3-Erin Corey (Apollo Cycling Team)
After a break for podium presentations, course practice and moving the timing tent, tables, chairs and timing team to the main field, it was the turn of the Under 14s, Under 16s and Women to race. The race start was at the top end of the park on the tarmac road, near the car parks. After a short sprint the riders entered the main park onto the grass.
In the Under 14 boys’ race Rory McCool (Square Wheels) got his first win of the series. Corran McCourt (VC Glendale) was second with Kealan Doherty (Foyle CC) third. Aoife Craig (VC Glendale) got race tape caught up in her bike on lap one, dropping her back to third place, but he managed to get back up to the front to take the win. Aoife Kellett (Dromara Cycling Club) was second with Eire McCrystal (Bellurgan Wheelers) third and Skye Spence (Shimna Wheelers Cycling Club) fourth.
Overall series winners in the Under 14s: Boys 1-Corran McCourt (VC Glendale) 2-Rory McCool (Square Wheels) 3-Kealan Doherty (Foyle CC)
The Under 16 boys’ race is always a thrilling one to watch. As expected Caleb McGreevy (VC Glendale) and Curtis McKee (Scott Bright Motor Group) were riding together for all four laps with the final sprint only happening within sight of the finish line. Curtis managed to outsprint Caleb. Rian McCrystal (Bellurgan Wheelers) finished third with Elliott McKeegan (Team Madigan C.C.) fourth. Among the girls Emer Heverin (Kinning Cycles Cycling Club) completed her full sweep of wins across all 5 rounds. Cara Suckling (VC Glendale) was second with Maeve McCool (Square Wheels) third and Lily Connolly (Square Wheels) fourth.
Overall series winners in the Under 16s: Boys 1-Curtis McKee (Scott Bright Motor Group) 2-Caleb McGreevy (VC Glendale) 3-Elliott McKeegan (Team Madigan C.C.) Girls 1-Emer Heverin (Kinning Cycles Cycling Club) 2-Maeve McCool (Square Wheels) 3-Elisa Sunderland (Lisburn BMX Club)
In the Women’s race Elena Wallace (Harps CC) led from start to finish, putting in a great performance, her second win of the series. Aoibhinn Sharkey (VC Glendale) made her first appearance at the series and came away with second place. Trudy Brown (VC Glendale) was third with the unplaced Master prize going to Carly Connolly (Square Wheels).
Overall series winners – Women: 1-Elena Wallace (Harps CC) 2-Trudy Brown (VC Glendale) 3-Carly Connolly (Square Wheels)
The next race was the Cyclocross A’ race. This was held over 7 laps. Crossing the line first for all 7 laps was Junior rider Conor Murphy (Rostrevor Mountain Bike Club), who was making his first appearance in the series this year. Darnell Moore (Team Caldwell Cycles) did pass Conor at one stage but Conor wasn’t for giving up the lead. Darnell finished second. Junior rider Cameron Henry (Inspired Cycling) finished third, enough to give him the overall series prize. Graham Boyd (McConvey Cycles) was fourth with Barry Kellett (Dromara Cycling Club) fifth and picking up the first unplaced M40 prize. Jonny Adams (Killinchy Cycling Club) was sixth with Jason Henry (Inspired Cycling) seventh, back racing after being knocked off his bike a few weeks ago. Jason picked up the unplaced M50 prize. Ashton Moore (Strabane Lifford Cycling Club) was the first unplaced Junior and Derek Patterson picked up first unplaced M60
. Inspired Cycling won the team prize when Christopher McCann crossed the line to join Cameron and Jason on the podium.
Overall series winners in the A race: 1-Cameron Henry (Inspired Cycling) 2-Graham Boyd (McConvey Cycles) 3-Barry Kellett (Dromara Cycling Club)
The final race of the day was the Cyclocross B’ race and the Mountain bike support race. Both were held over 4 laps. The course was beginning to churn up and was described as ‘heavy going’. Vinny Mort (Dunloy CC) won the final B’ race of the 2022 season at this venue and repeated this achievement in 2023. Square Wheels had a good showing when Colm Mitchell finished second, Derek Finnegan third and Bernard Mackle fourth.
In the mountain bike support race Gavin Thompson (Un-Attached Ulster) took the win with Gerard Curran (Tir Chonaill Gap CC) second. Calum McMonagle (Foyle CC) had to push his bike to the finish with a jammed rear wheel. It was worth the effort to get on the podium again. Gerard Curran won the overall series with Calum second and Gavin third.
After the final podium presentation it was time to pack up. Missing from today’s event was club president Joe McCool. Joe would normally have presented the medals. Joe’s son Major Kevin McCool was killed a few days ago while off duty in Kenya. Deepest condolonces to the McCool family. Massive thanks to all those at Square Wheels for putting on today’s race in Armagh. A great set up again. Well done to all the riders who braved the cold conditions. The 2023 Ulster series is now complete with just the Ulster Cyclo-cross championships being held next Sunday, 10 December 2023 at Cyclocross NI in Portadown, hosted by Velocity Road Club. For more information see www.ulstercyclocross.com Commissaires: Jim Adams and Martin Grimley (author report)Here below a picture of a great supporter of road and off-road…Paddy from Harps CC supporting Elene Wallace yesterday (Photo courtesy of Jerry Rafferty)
Some more pictures exclusive for the Belgian project courtesy of Jerry Rafferty (Fotozone Armagh) Please credit Jerry if using on social media, no commercial use allowed without permission!
Next in Ulster
Registration opens on Sunday 3 December 2023 at 8 pm and closes on Friday 8 December 2023 at 8 pm. NOTE: There are no registrations on the day. Link to register: https://eventmaster.ie/event/nEQ9tplH0v