NPS Round 4 (2019) Report

The fourth and final round of the Irish Cross-country (XC) Mountain Bike National Point Series (NPS) took place at Castlewellan Forest Park on Sunday 23 June 2019. Hosted by Banbridge Cycling Club, under the direction of Race Organiser Gareth McKee, this event also doubled up as Round 3 of the Ulster XC series. The venue has been used for many years and boasts a wide range of activities with camping on site, water sports on the lake, orienteering, getting lost in the Peace Maze (among the top 10 largest hedge mazes in the world) and mountain biking. The forest is under the management of Newry, Mourne and Down council and with recent issues around insurance the event only got the go ahead less than 2 weeks before the race date. Lots of work going on behind the scenes to pull everything together. The event attracted riders from all corners of Ireland to the venue. Registration, podium, timing tent and start line was located on the grass field in front of the castle. The weather was overcast but thankfully stayed dry all day.

On behalf of the club and the Ulster Off-road commission we would ask that riders do not use any of the natural trails that have been developed for this race. Let the trails go back to nature. We risk not getting access to the forest for next year if these trails become regularly used. There are plenty of excellent trail centres to use both at Castlewellan and other forests. Many thanks for your assistance on this.

The first race of the day was for the Under 6s which was held in the grass area close to the lakeside. A short 2 lap affair around the bushes which the 19 young riders seemed to enjoy as well as the goodie bag afterwards.

The Under 8s, 10s and 12s races took place inside the forest at the bottom of the fire road climb.

The Under 8s had to complete 2 laps of their course. There was a very close finish between the top four male riders with Eunan Campbell (Square Wheels) just getting the win ahead of Cian Walsh (IMBRC) with Brodie Hull (Trail Demons CC) finishing third. Series leader Rory McCool (Square Wheels) finished 4th. Among the girls it was Aoife Campbell (Square Wheels) who took the win as she finished ahead of Skye Spence (Shimna Wheelers), who won at Round 1, with Laoise Crinion (IMBRC), winner at Round 3, finishing 3rd.

For the overall National Point Series (NPS), the winners were:
1st Rory McCool (Square Wheels), 2nd Sean Heverin (Kinning Cycles), Joint 3rd Eunan Campbell (Square Wheels) and Cian Walsh (IMBRC)
1st Cassie Rocks (Island Wheelers), 2nd Skye Spence (Shimna Wheelers), Joint 3rd Laoise Crinion (IMBRC) and Aoife Campbell (Square Wheels).

The Under 10s used the same course as the Under 8s but had 4 laps to complete. A bit of drama at the start of this race when one of the gridded riders in the boys’ race, Caleb McGreevy (Apollo Cycling Team), had a mechanical on the start of the fire road climb, just metres from the start and was passed by all the boys and the girls. Back on his bike Caleb managed to power past the majority of the riders to finish 3rd. Taking the win, however, was Fionn Crinion (IMBRC) who improved on his 2nd place at Round 3. Ryan McBride (Banbridge CC) was doing his first cross-country race this season but still managed to finish 2nd. The girls’ race had a close battle between Emer Heverin (Kinning Cycles) and Aoife Craig (VC Glendale) with Aoife managing to pull out a gap on Emer to take the win. Maeve McCool (Square Wheels) completed the podium.

The overall National Point Series (NPS) winners were:
1st Kevin Randall (Scott Orwell Wheelers), 2nd Darragh Murphy (Rostrevor MTB), Joint 3rd Evan Wynne (Foyle CC) and Fionn Crinion (IMBRC)
1st Emer Heverin (Kinning Cycles), 2nd Maeve McCool (Square Wheels), 3rd Sarah Jane Rocks (Island Wheelers).

The Under 12s had a different length course and 5 laps to complete. There was another close battle at the head of the boys’ race between Conor Murphy (Rostrevor Mountain Bike Club) and Oisin May (Scott Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club). Conor managed to pull away from Oisin on lap 3 and extended that lead to 30 seconds. Oisin completed a clean sweep of second places across all 4 rounds. Curtis McKee (Maryland Wheelers) was out on his own finishing 3rd. In the girls’ race Greta Lawless (Team WORC) improved on her 2nd place at Round 3 to take the win. Series leader Faith Robinson (Bray Wheelers) finished 2nd with Cara Suckling (Maryland Wheelers) 3rd.

The overall National Point Series (NPS) winners were:
1st Conor Murphy (Rostrevor Mountain Bike Club), 2nd Oisin May (Scott Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club), 3rd Curtis McKee (Maryland Wheelers)
1st Faith Robinson (Bray Wheelers), 2nd Maria O’Shea (IMBRC), 3rd Aoine Reilly (Scott Orwell Wheelers).

There was then a podium presentation before the next races started at 12:00. Lined up on the grass was the Under 16s, Under 14s Senior 4 men, Senior 2 women and one entery in the Senior 3 women’s category. Well done to Cecilia Holden (Tir Chonaill Gap CC) for completing the Senior 3 women’s course (2 laps).

The Under 14s had 2 laps of the full course to complete. Shane Scullion (Island Wheelers) gave it his all to finish first in the boys’ race, his second win of the series. Oscar McCarthy (Killarney Cycling Club) was second with Oisin Ferrity (Island Wheelers) completing his first NPS of the year by taking third. Just 2 entries in the Under 14 girls’ race with Aine Doherty (VC Glendale) putting on another fine display to take first. Katie Reilly (Scott Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) finished second which secured her the overall series win.

The overall National Point Series (NPS) winners were:
Joint 1st Travis Harkness (Carn Wheelers) and Shane Scullion (Island Wheelers), 3rd Oscar McCarthy (Killarney Cycling Club)
1st Katie Reilly (Scott Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club), 2nd Aine Doherty (VC Glendale)

Under 16 boys had to complete 4 full laps. Ruairi Coghlan (Killarney Cycling Club) was leading after the first lap but series leader Dean Harvey (VC Glendale) got to the front from lap 2 to the end. This gave Dean the 4 wins out of 4 races. Ruairi finished second on the day and second overall for the series. Aaron Finnerty (Ballina Cycling Club) completed the podium for the Under 16 boys. The Under 16 girls seen Erin Creighton (McConvey Cycles) put on a superb race to take the win ahead of Caoimhe May (Scott Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) who had won two of the other rounds. Annie Roche (Scott Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club), the only girl to compete in all 4 rounds, finished third.

The overall National Point Series (NPS) winners were:
1st Dean Harvey (VC Glendale), 2nd Ruairi Coghlan (Killarney Cycling Club), 3rd Sam Bolger (Killarney Cycling Club)
1st Caoimhe May (Scott Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club), 2nd Erin Creighton (McConvey Cycles), 3rd Annie Roche (Scott Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club).

Michael Runciman won the 3 lap Senior 4 men much to the pleasure of the host club supporters (former member). Neil Armstrong (Dromara Cycling Club) finished second with Piotr Rutecki back on the podium again this time in third place. Gerard Curran (Tir Chonaill Gap CC) was 4th, Aaron Fegan 5th and Kevin Cartledge (MAD MTB) 6th. The Senior 2 women also had 3 laps to complete and again it was a podium full of Junior women with Stephanie Roche (Scott Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) completing 4 wins out of 4 races, Amanda Draper (MBCC) finishing second and Miriam Draper (MBCC) third. Ruth McKee (Banbridge CC) just missed out on the podium finishing fourth.

The overall National Point Series (NPS) winners were:
1st Stephanie Roche (Scott Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club), 2nd Miriam Draper (MBCC), 3rd Caroline Martinez (Inspired Cycling)

After another break for podiums and a chance for riders to practice the course the final races of the day took place at 2 pm. Setting off first were the Senior 1 men who had 6 laps to complete, Junior men – 5 laps, Senior 2 men – 5 laps, Senior 1 women – 4 laps, Senior 3 men – 4 laps.

Lee Clarke (Shelbourne/Orchard CC) got his first win of the series this year with a strong performance in the Senior 3 men’s race. Ronan Balfe (MAD MTB) finished 2nd which secured him the overall series win. Tomas Knapcok (Clogher Valley Wheelers) was back on the podium again, this time in third place, which secured him second place in the overall series. Mickey Clarke (Shimna Wheelers Cycling Club) finished 4th with Paul Hamilton (Dromara Cycling Club) getting another 5th place and Alan Magee (Caldwell Cycles Omagh) taking 6th.

The overall National Point Series (NPS) winners were:
1st Ronan Balfe (MAD MTB), 2nd Tomas Knapcok (Clogher Valley Wheelers), 3rd Lee Clarke (Shelbourne/Orchard CC).

Paul McCarter (Donegal Bay Cycling Club) made it 3 wins out of 3 appearances this year as he finished well ahead of Geoffrey Robinson (Bray Wheelers) in the Senior 2 men’s race. Legend of the sport, Michael Jordan (Team Cycle SuperStore), finished 3rd with Sean McIntyre (Caldwell Cycles Omagh) taking part for the first time this season finishing 4th. Pj Hynes (Cuchulainn CC) was 5th with Chris Oakley (XMTB) 6th.

The overall National Point Series (NPS) winners were:
1st Paul McCarter (Donegal Bay Cycling Club), 2nd Geoffrey Robinson (Bray Wheelers), 3rd Scott Maitland (Killinchy Cycling Club).

In the Junior men’s race series leader Lee Harvey (VC Glendale) was competing in the Newry 3 day which left the race wide open then for the two entries from Andrew Gordon (Ballymoney CC) and Callum Richardson (Trail Demons CC) with Andrew putting in an impressive performance to take the win.

The overall National Point Series (NPS) winners were:
1st Lee Harvey (VC Glendale), 2nd Adam McGarr (, Joint 3rd Sean Nolan (Navan Road Club) and Callum Richardson (Trail Demons CC).

Klaudia Bajolek (Scott finished well clear of her nearest rivals in the Senior 1 women’s race. Junior rider Niamh McKiverigan (Powerhouse Sport) finished second which secured her the overall series title. Leah McCarthy (Team Giant Dublin) got her first podium place of the series finishing third. Joanna Bula (Scott was fourth, securing her second place overall, Junior rider Darcey Harkness (Carn Wheelers) finished 5th with Natalie Grieve (EPIC MTB / Expert Cycles) 6th.

The overall National Point Series (NPS) winners were:
1st Niamh McKiverigan (Powerhouse Sport), 2nd Joanna Bula (Scott, 3rd Klaudia Bajolek (Scott

David Montgomery was a man on a mission in the Senior 1 men’s race. He lead from start to finish and crossed the line with over 2 and a half minutes gap on the next placed rider. The main battle of the race was for second place between series leader and current national champion, Gareth McKee (Banbridge CC) and the GB based rider David Duggan (Wheelbase). Given the amount of effort Gareth had put in to organise the race it was a surprise that he had the any energy left to race but David and Gareth put on a great show. David Duggan secured second place with Gareth McKee third, securing him the overall series win. Barry Kellett (Dromara Cycling Club) finished his first NPS of the year with 4th place, Graham Boyd (McConvey Cycles) finished 5th which secured him second place in the overall series table. Brian Melia was the first of the Team WORC riders home followed by his club mates, Richard Felle, Gavin O’Connell and Vinnie Fitzsimon.

Well done to all the riders today. A huge thanks to Banbridge Cycling Club for hosting the event. The next all Ireland cross-county mountain bike event will be the National Championships which are taking place in Tracton Woods, Co. Cork hosted by MBCC on the weekend of the 20/21 July 2019. See details on

Commissaire: Martin Grimley

Report by: Martin Grimley

Results here

Series results after 4 rounds here

Paul Hannigan (Facebook) – here, here and here
Sam Taylor (Facebook) – here