NPS Round 2 (2023) Report

Round 2 of the 2023 Cross-Country Mountain Bike National Point Series took place at Glensheskin Wood, Kilworth, Co. Cork hosted by Fermoy Cycling Club on Sunday 21 May 2023. This was the first time the series has used this popular local forest. With car parking in a nearby field thanks to a local farmer, the riders made their way up to the race village where the registration, catering and finish line were based. The club had designed different courses for Under 6s up to adults. The trails were in great condition on the Saturday. There was some overnight rain, which stopped in time for registration to open, but the rain did leave some of the roots more tricky to negotiate. The main course started on a long fire road straight which lead into plenty of single track. The whole course was described as challenging, ‘old-school’ mountain biking.

The day’s racing got underway with the Under 6s fun race. The 11 young riders had two laps of a short circuit with all getting a gift at the end.

The Under 8s’ circuit was an extension from the Under 6s and included a tricky rooty section which crossed into the return leg of the forest. Repeating his win in the boys’ race at Round 1 was Conor McGahan (Square Wheels) with Finn McTavish (Western Lakes CC) second and Evan McTavish (Western Lakes CC) third. The first of the Fermoy CC riders was Art O’Meara who finished fourth. In the girls’ race Ríonach Campbell (Square Wheels) put on another impressive performance to take her second win of the series. Marian Mulvaney (Sliabh Luachra Cycling Club) was second with Elisa Tyszecka (MBCC) third.

The Under 10s had their own loop of the forest and had two laps to complete. In the boys’ race Jack McGahan (Square Wheels) took advantage of the opportunity to take his first win of the series when race favourite Benjamin Cunningham (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) managed to fall into the large puddle on the corner, known as the swimming pool. Max McGrath (Fermoy Cycling Club) was second with a mud covered Benjamin taking third place. Aoife Campbell (Square Wheels) finished just behind Benjamin to take first spot in the girls’ race. Julia Piorek (Limerick Mountain Biking Club) was second with Grace Kennedy (Cork BMX Club) third.

The Under 12s course was much longer with a long sprint up the fire road to the single track entrance. The riders had two laps to complete. James Cunningham (Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club) took his second win of the series in the boys’ race. Eunan Campbell (Square Wheels) was second with Cian Walsh (IMBRC) third. The girls’ race was a closer affair with Ava Baker (Breffni Wheelers) finishing ahead of Laoise Crinion (IMBRC), a reverse of the finish positions at Round 1, with Ciara O’Connor (Drogheda Wheelers) taking third place.

After the usual break for podium presentations and course practice, the Under 14s, Under 16s, Senior 2 women, Senior 3 women and Senior 4 men lined up for their race at 12 noon.

The Senior 3 women and the Under 14s had two laps of a shortened version of the full course. In the Under 14 boys’ race Caleb McGreevy (VC Glendale) took his second win of the series when he finished ahead of Fionn Crinion (IMBRC) and Shane O’Brien (Fermoy Cycling Club). There were only two entries in the Under 14 girls’ race with Aoife Craig (VC Glendale) getting her second win of the series. Lacey Aicken-Johnson (North Down CC) finished second. There were also only two entries in the Senior 3 women’s race. Olivia Kiely (Un-Attached Leinster) finished ahead of Joelene Browning.

The Under 16s, Senior 2 women and Senior 4 men used the full course. In the Under 16 boys’ race there were no mishaps for Conor Murphy (Rostrevor Mountain Bike Club) this time as he took the win after 3 laps. Curtis McKee (Scott Bright Motor Group) finished second with Ryan Daly (Scott Bright Motor Group) third. Greta Lawless (Team WORC) won the Under 16 girls’ race, her second win of the series, with Faith Robinson (Bray Wheelers) second and Mia Geary (Fermoy Cycling Club) third. Ciaran Campbell (Square Wheels) finished 7th at Round 1 but he was on the top step of the podium at Round 2 as he crossed the line ahead of Anthony Watkins (Un-Attached Munster) and Brian McCarthy (MBCC). Taking fourth place was Tom Cotter (Fermoy Cycling Club) who was the designer and builder of the race course.  In the Senior 2 women’s race, Junior rider Tara Brennan (Un-Attached Munster) took her second win of the series. Niamh Stephens (Team Giant Dublin) finished second with cross-country co-ordinator, Caroline Martinez (Chain Reaction Cycles), taking third place. In a nice touch we had Aine Maccarthy (Sorrento CC) and Ciara Nolan (Team Giant Dublin) cross the line holding hands in solidarity at the end of their race to finish joint fourth.

The next races started at 2 pm with the Senior 1 men, Senior 1 women, Junior men as well as the Senior 2 and 3 men.

The Senior 3 men’s race was the biggest of the day with 44 riders lined up for 4 laps of the full course. Fionn Desmond (MBCC) took the win ahead of Cameron McFarland (Team Caldwell Cycles) and Jonathan Boyle (Navan Road Club). Jonathan Andrews (Shelbourne/Orchard CC) was fourth with Jean Sergio Cambruzzi (Team WORC) finishing fifth.

The Senior 2 men had 5 laps to race. Raymond O’Shaughnessy (Cuchulainn CC) was leading at the end of lap 1 but Dominik Drwal (Un-Attached Connacht) took over on lap 2 and kept the lead to the finish. Colm McGarvey (EPIC MTB/Expert Cycles) moved up into second with Raymond taking third place. Round 1 winner John Doris (EPIC MTB/Expert Cycles) had to settle for fourth with Chris Mollaghan (Team WORC) fifth and David O’Neill (Inspired Cycling) sixth.

Among the Junior men it was Jake White (IMBRC) who took the win in the 4 lap race finishing ahead of Donagh O’Connor (Sliabh Luachra Cycling Club). For the Senior 1 women’s race, also over 4 laps, Leah McCarthy (K Capital Rocky Mountain) lead for the first two laps but Joanna Bula (Team WORC) lead for the important last two, leaving Leah to finish second.

The Senior 1 men’s race was split in two. There was the race between Robin Seymour (Team WORC) and Gareth McKee (Cycleology Racing Team), and then the race for everyone else!! To the casual observer it looked like Robin and Gareth were out for a spin together as they remained wheel to wheel for the first 5 of 6 laps. They didn’t look like they were working hard, but the gap kept extending between them and the rest of the riders. On the last lap Robin managed to pull away from Gareth on one of the climbs and was able to take the chequered flag uncontested. This was back to back wins for Robin. Gareth finished second. It was then a wait for over 5 minutes before third place was confirmed. It was Lee Clarke (Shelbourne/Orchard CC) who had put in a great race to take the final place on the podium. For another remarkable race achievement it was difficult to look past the efforts of Robert McKenna (Bray Wheelers) who had crashed on the starting straight on the first lap, which left him in 11th place at the end of lap 1. He then clawed his way back up through the field to finish fourth.

A huge thanks to Stephen McGrath, Tom Cotter and all the crew from Fermoy Cycling Club for putting on a great race. Thanks to Coillte for the use of the forest, the farmer for allowing parking in his field and the local GAA club for allowing camping on their ground. Thanks to Scott Cycles for sponsoring the series and providing prizes for the winners. Thanks to the caterers and to Paul Joyce for the race commentary. A big thanks to all the support crews and spectators for helping make the day.

The next round is being held at Killarney International Youth Hostel, Aghadoe House, Ring of Kerry Rd, Fossa, Killarney, Co. Kerry hosted by Killarney Cycling Club on Sunday 4 June 2023. See details on Closing date for entries will be Friday 2 June at 8 pm.

Commissaire: Martin Grimley

Results – here
Series table after two rounds – here

Race report by Martin Grimley

Cycling Ireland (Facebook) – here
Seán Magnier (Facebook) – here