The fifth and final round of the Ulster Cross-country series took place at Davagh Forest, County Tyrone, on Sunday 8 July 2018. This round also doubled up as the final round of the Irish Cross-country National Point Series (NPS). The forest is home to a popular trail centre and parts of the trail network were used today, along with the fireroads and some new natural sections through the trees thanks to the hard work of the host club Carn Wheelers. The continued dry weather has left the forest dusty with thankfully some cloud cover today to take some of the unseasonal heat away.
The first race of the day was for the Under 6s with 8 young riders taking to the start line. The Under 8s were next and they had 2 laps to complete. League leader Darragh Murphy (Rostrevor Mountain Bike Club) was all set for the win until he collided with a back marker within sight of the finish line. Brodie Hull (Trail Demons CC) nipped ahead to take the win with Darragh second and Ryan McKeown (Trail Demons CC) third. In the girls’ race Aoife Craig (VC Glendale) achieved her fourth win of the series with Anna Morris (Inishowen Wheelers) second and Aoife Kellett (Dromara Cycling Club) third.
Next up were the Under 10s who had to complete 3 laps of their own specific course. Curtis McKee (Maryland Wheelers) made it five wins out of five rounds as he just finished ahead of Ryan Daly (Scott Eurocycles.com) with Caleb McGreevy (Apollo Cycling Team) taking bronze. Cara Suckling (Maryland Wheelers) took her fifth win out of five as she finished ahead of Emer Heverin (Kinning Cycles) with Maria O’Shea (IMBRC) third.
The Under 12s had their own specific course and also had 3 laps to complete. League leader Reuben Maitland (Killinchy Cycling Club) had to work hard to stay ahead of Conor Murphy (Rostrevor Mountain Bike Club) with these two finishing first and second respectively. This was Reuban’s fifth win out of five rounds. Callum Morris (Inishowen Wheelers) completed the podium in the boys’ race, an excellent result after recovering from his crash at Round 3. Aine Doherty (VC Glendale) got her fourth win of the NPS series and finished 3rd overall in the race today. Aliyah Rafferty (Island Wheelers) was second with series leader Faith Robinson (Bray Wheelers) third.
After a break for prize giving and practice time the next races started around noon. There were 7 race categories lined up and, as always, it can be tricky for organisers to set the correct number of laps to hit each of the desired race lengths, especially with a new course design.
The Under 14 boys race was missing series leader Luke Murphy (Killarney CC) so it was host club’s Travis Harkness who pushed hard to take the chequered flag. Second place went to Adam Rafferty (Island Wheelers) with Brendan Conroy (EPIC MTB / Expert Cycles) third. In the girls’ race the all-round off-roader Hannah Mullin (Trail Demons) took the win with Eva Gordon (Ballymoney CC) taking second. In the Under 16 boys’ race Darren Rafferty (Island Wheelers) finished well clear of league leader Dean Harvey (Unattached) with Ben Wilson (Dromara Cycling Club) taking third. Among the girls, Darcey Harkness (Carn Wheelers) took the win ahead of Miriam Draper (MBCC).
Ciara Nolan (Team Giant Dublin) won the Senior 3 women’s race as she finished ahead of Louise Friel (XMTB). There were 9 racing in the Senior 2 women’s race with Leah McCarthy (Team Giant Dublin) getting her third win of the series. Trudy Brown (VC Glendale) finished second with Joanna Bula (Lakeside Wheelers Mullingar CC) third. In the Senior 4 men’s race newcomer Robert Davison (Unattached) took the win as he finished ahead of Andrew Gordon (Maryland Wheelers) with Gareth Skelly (Carn Wheelers) third.
After another break for podium presentations and practice time, the final races of the day took place with the Senior 1 men, Junior men, Senior 1 women, Senior 2 men and Senior 3 men. In the Senior 3 men’s race Paddy Daly (Scott Eurocycles.com) finally made it to the top step of the podium having been on the third step three times this year. PJ Hynes (Cuchulainn CC) finished second with Dean Burnside (Island Wheelers) third. In the Senior 2 men’s race Sean Featherstone (Newry Wheelers CC) took the win with Edward Shannon (Velo Club Mourne) second and Richard Lenehan (Lakeside Wheelers Mullingar CC) getting back onto the podium – this time in third place. Even through there were only two in the Junior men’s race it had plenty of drama with Andrew Gordon (Ballymoney CC) having a mechanical on the first lap leaving Lee Harvey (Unattached) to charge on ahead, but on the final lap Lee’s free hub broke so he had to run to the finish line with Andrew a mere seconds behind him at the finish. Veteran rider Ciara Macmanus (Summit Mountain Biking) can still make an appearance at a cross-country race and still pull out a result as she finished well clear of Junior rider, and series leader, Niamh McKiverigan (Powerhouse Sport). The Senior 1 men’s race was won, as expected, by Gareth McKee (Banbridge CC), which was his fourth win of the series. Graham Boyd (McConvey Cycles) finished ahead of his club mate Tomasz Michalski (McConvey Cycles) to take second and third respectively. Barry Kellett (Dromara Cycling Club) finished just behind Tomasz with Colm McGarvey (EPIC MTB / Expert Cycles) fifth and cyclo-cross legend Roger Aiken (Banbridge CC) sixth.
Many thanks to all those who helped to put today’s event on. That was the end of the Ulster XC series and NPS for 2018. The next cross-country event will be the Irish National Cross-country Championships which will be held at Castlewellan Forest Park on Sunday 22 July 2018. This is a PRE-ENTRY only race with entries closed on Sunday 15 July 2018. See details on www.irishxcnps.ie.
Commissaires: Lisa Millar and Gary Sheils.
Report by Martin Grimley
Ulster series table – here
Gareth Gibbons – here