Lakeland Cycling Club hosted Round 2 of the Ulster Cyclo-cross Series on Sunday 23 September 2018. It was a return to the beautiful Necarne Estate which lies in the County Fermanagh town of Irvinestown. The location was last used in 2015 and, as before, the finish line was set up in front of the abandoned 16th castle. The youth courses were mapped out on the castle’s lawn with the senior courses heading away from the castle and up into the hills and trees making great use of the topography of the estate. The course wound its way around the castle and outbuildings taking in the sand pit which is part of the equestian centre. It was a fine day with lots of blue skies only interrupted for short periods by some showers passing through.
The first race of the day was the ‘fun race’ for the Under 6s which saw 13 young riders take to the line. They started on the gravel path near a stone bridge and had a wide fast run in to the finish line.
Next up were the Under 8s. Twenty-two riders were gridded on the start line on a wide section of grass. They faced 2 laps of the youth course which was kept within sight of the spectators on the lawn. Mirroring the same podium as per Round 1, Brodie Hull (Trail Demons CC) took his second win of the series with Rory McCool (Square Wheels) second and Eunan Campbell (Square Wheels) third. Eunan was chased to the line in an exciting sprint finish with Sean Heverin (Kinning Cycles). Leah Hepburn (Island Wheelers) was the first of the girls with Skye Spence (Shimna Wheelers Cycling Club) and Cora Mimnagh (Caldwell Cycles) second and third respectively.
The Under 10s shared the same course but they had to negociate the plank obstacles where their dismounting and remounting techniques were challenged. The podium positions in both the boys’ and girls’ race were the same as in Round 1. Rhys Hepburn (Island Wheelers) won the 6 lap race with Jamie Rockett (Ards CC) having to work hard to stay ahead of Ryan McBride (Banbridge CC). Emer Heverin (Kinning Cycles) was the fastest girl with Aoife Craig (VC Glendale) second and Maeve McCool (Square Wheels) third.
During practice the Under 12s felt that their course could be made more difficult and had politely asked the course designers if it was possible to extend the course. The designers and the Under 12s worked together to produce a longer, more challenging circuit taking in the gravel road. As per Round 1 the overall winner of the 3 lap Under 12s race was Aliyah Rafferty (Island Wheelers) who, along with the rest of the girls, had started a few seconds behind the boys. Aliyah weaved her way though all the other riders to take the chequered flag. Behind Aliyah Conor Murphy (Rostrevor Mountain Bike Club) took the win in the boys’ race with Karl Rockett (Ards CC) second. There was a sprint finish for 3rd place between Calum Hepburn (Island Wheelers) and James Armstrong (Dromara CC) with Calum taking the final place on the podium. Tori Moffitt (Phoenix CC) took her second second place of the series with Aisling Smyth (Apollo Cycling Team) finishing third.
After a break for practice the next races got underway starting from the car park. The Cyclo-cross women, Mountain Bike Women, the Under 16s and the Under 14s were lined up for a long sprint into the main course.
The CX Women had 5 laps to complete. Leading after lap 1 was Rachel Irvine (The Bike House CC) but a heavy crash on lap 2 finished her race. Francine Meehan (Kinning Cycles) took over the lead which she held to the finish. Niamh Stephens (TC Racing) finished second with Joanna Bula (Lakeside Wheelers Mullingar CC) third. Isobel Oakes (Smugglers CC) was fourth with Darcey Harkness (Carn Wheelers) finishing 5th and taking the first unplaced Junior prize.
The Under 16 boys had 3 laps to complete. Darren Rafferty (Island Wheelers) finished well clear of nearest rival, Somhairle Owens Fisher (Omagh Wheelers Cycling Club) with Conor Gallagher (Errigal Cycling Club) third. In the U16 girls’ race Annie Roche (Scott Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) had a lead of over 4 minutes by the end. Maia Simmons (The Bike House CC) finished second with Katie Neill (Carn Wheelers) third.
The Under 14s also had 3 laps to complete. Shane Scullion (Island Wheelers) came from behind to take the win ahead of Oisin Ferrity (Island Wheelers) with Travis Harkness (Carn Wheelers) third. Aine Doherty (VC Glendale) took her second win of the series with Cara Moffitt (Phoenix CC) second, Keela Smyth (Apollo Cycling Team) third and Lucy Brown (Phoenix CC) fourth.
The Mountain Bike Women’s Support Race was held over 4 laps with Alice Funston from the host club taking the win. Elizabeth Quigley (Foyle CC) was second with fellow club member Karen Wynne third.
The next race was for the Cyclo-cross Men’s A’ race. This was held over 6 laps. As per Round 1 Darnell Moore (Caldwell Cycles Omagh), the current national champion, powered away from his nearest rival, Glenn Kinning (Kinning Cycles) to take the win. Angus Fyffe (Caldwell Cycles Omagh) took another third place with Barry Kellett (Dromara Cycling Club) fourth and Sean Nolan (Navan Road Club) 5th and first unplaced junior. Brendan Doherty (VC Glendale) was 6th overall and took the first unplaced M50 prize with Barry Convery (Newry Wheelers CC) taking the first unplaced M40 award. Kyle Fisher (Lakeland) was first unplaced Espoir (Under 23) rider. The team prize went to Dromara Cycling Club when riders Barry Kellett, Jack Ferguson and Neil Armstrong crossed the line.
The final race of the day had two categories, Cyclo-cross Men’s B’ race and the Men’s Mountain Bike Support Race. Both were held over 5 laps. Host club rider Raymond Kerr was the popular winner in the CX B’ race with William Larmour (The Bike House CC) second and Sean McCourt (VC Glendale) third. Raymond Rocks (Island Wheelers) was 4th, Seamus McGovern (Smugglers Cycle Club) 5th and Tomas Knapcok (Clogher Valley Wheelers) 6th in the 58 strong category. Jonnie Boyle (Team Cavan Racing) won the mountain bike support race and finished well up among the cyclo-cross riders. Ciaran Donnelly (Termon Wheelers) was second with Brian McAuley (Unattached) third.
After the races the riders were able to head up to the Bawnacre Centre where there was hot food laid on by the club. The podium ceremonies took place in the centre as well. Many thanks to all the volunteers within Lakeland CC for the race organisation and hospitality. The next round of the Ulster series takes place at Delamont Park, Killyleagh hosted by Killinchy CC on Sunday 30 September 2018. See details on www.ulstercyclocross.com.
Commissaires: Lisa Millar, Jim Adams and Martin Grimley
Report by Martin Grimley