By Tony Mairs

Saturday 17th July saw the Irish Youth National Track Championships taking place at Sundrive Velodrome and with a growing field of up and coming youngsters it did not disappoint in delivering a great spectacle of racing.

Fifty one U12, U14, U16 boys and girls from all corners of the country made up the entries on what was a pleasant and sunny if not slightly windy day in Dublin.

The National titles for three separate track disciplines were to be decided on the day with riders competing in the Match Sprint, the standing start TT and the scratch race. There were three separate age categories taking part which were the U12s, the U14s and the U16s with races for both girls and boys.

The riders are given a briefing (Photo: Brendan Whelan)
The riders are given a briefing (Photo: Brendan Whelan)

Sprint Qualifying and Standing Start Time Trial
The morning started with the flying 200-metre time trial sprint qualifier which seeded the riders for the sprint rounds later in the day. Following the Sprint qualifying, the electronic starting gate was set up on the track for the time trials. Distances were 100m for U12 riders, 250m for U14s and 500m for the U16s.

Photo: Brendan Whelan
Photo: Brendan Whelan

Winner of the Girls U12 was Aoife O’Brien of Lakeside Wheelers ahead of silver medalist Rachel White (North Down CC) and Casey Owens of Sundrive Track Team. In the U12 Boys it was Noah McConway of O’Leary Stone Kanturk who took the honours over Adam McGeever (AAA Cycling) and Callum Byrne (Sundrive TT).

Lakeside Wheelers’ Caoimhe O’Brien was tied with Caoimhe May (U/A Leinster) for gold in the U14 250m Girl’s TT with Powerhouse Sport’s Amber Young taking bronze. Phoenix Cycling Club’s Ciaran Dixon took the closely fought U14 Boy’s title edging out Tom Moriarty (O’Leary Stone Kanturk) into silver and Chris Donald of Madigan Wheelers into bronze.

Lara Gillespie (Scott Orwell Wheelers) grabbed gold in the U16 Girl’s with Caldwell Cycles’ Amanda Gallagher in silver position and Clodagh Gallagher of AAA Cycling in bronze. in the Boy’s U16 TT Aaron Wade (Lakeside Wheelers) just edged out Conor Halvey (Errigal Cycling Club) for gold whilst Sean Nolan (Navan Road Club) rode to bronze.

Match Sprint rounds and finals
After the lunch break it was time for the Match Sprint rounds to commence. Riders jostled for position and psyched each other out before sprinting all out to the line.

Aoife O’Brien took her second gold of the day in the U12 girl’s Sprint after battling through the rounds to emerge victorious in the final. Once again it was Rachel White (North Down CC) who took the silver position and Casey Owens (Sundrive TT) grabbing herself another bronze.

In the U12 boy’s Shay O’Kane took the title in front of a sun burnt yet jubilant father Finbar who nearly gave himself a heart attack cheering on his son. Adam McGever (AAA Cycling) took another silver medal with Noah McConway (O’Leary Stone Kanturk) in bronze.

Caoimhe O’Brien took her second title of the day in the U14 girl’s ahead of silver medalist Amber Young (Powerhouse Sports) and Leinster’s Caoimhe May finishing in third.

Tom Moriarty (O’Leary Stone Kanturk) got the better of Bray Wheelers’ Thomas Pickford to take the U14 boy’s title and Chris Donald (Madigan Wheelers) picked up his second bronze medal of the day.

Lara Gillespie of Scott Orwell Wheelers took another title in the U16 girl’s Match Sprint just ahead of Amanda Gallagher (Caldwell Cycles) with the bronze going to Orla Harrison (Westport Convey Wheelers).

In the boy’s U16 the powerful Arthur Taggart (Ballymoney CC) out sprinted David O’Sullivan of Moynalty Cycling Club for gold, Aaron Wade (Lakeside Wheelers) took bronze.

Medalists in the Boy's U16 Sprint (Photo: Brendan Whelan)
Medalists in the Boy’s U16 Sprint (Photo: Brendan Whelan)

Scratch Race
The very long day ended with the girl’s and boy’s scratch races. By this stage of the early evening the fatigue was setting for the parents and the organisers but the kids couldn’t wait to get the show on the track and do what they love best.

The U12 girl’s race was won in the end by a very impressive Aoife O’Brien (Lakeside Wheelers) who took her third gold of the day finishing ahead of Rachel White (North Down CC) who rode to her third silver and Casey Owens (Sundrive TT) in bronze.

In the boy’s Shay O’Kane (Phoenix CC) took his second gold of the day ahead of Adam McGeever (AAA Cycling) and Noah McConway (O’Leary Stone Kanturk) in third.

In the U14’s, it was Caoimhe O’Brien (Lakeside Wheelers) who raced to a third gold ahead of Eve Brennan of Deenside Wheelers with Killarney CC’s Almha Russell Kissane bagging a bronze. Eoghan Pattwell (O’Leary Stone Kanturk) won the boy’s scratch race with teammate Tom Moriarty finishing in second and a battling Ciaran Dixon taking bronze.

Orla Harrison (Westport Convey Wheelers) edged out Amanda Gallagher of Caldwell Cycles to take gold in the U16 girl’s scratch with Laura Gillespie of Scott Orwell Wheelers finishing third.

Photo: Brendan Whelan
Photo: Brendan Whelan

In the boy’s scratch it was Shane Higgins of Black Rose who rode to gold with Archie Ryan (O’Leary Stone Kanturk) coming in second and Conor Halvey of Errigal Cycling Club in third.

All in all, it was a superbly organised event and a great day for spectators and parents at the velodrome. The numbers of participants are on the rise and there certainly looks to be an excellent racing scene for the future with enthusiastic kids already showing glimpses of future greatness.

Already this week there were top performances of junior and U23 Irish riders at the European Track Championships and more success will undoubtedly follow and maybe sooner than we expected.

A big shout out must go to those involved in organising and running the event this year. Without them none of this would be possible and on this occasion the event ran several hours longer than expected meaning a very early start and a very late finish in the evening for them.

– John Coates (Everything)
– Ray Grogan (looking after everything)
– Eoin McCahill (Electonic Timing)
– Stephen Gibbons (Gates)
– Millie Reade (Commisaire)
– Hugh Byrne (Commisaire)
– Aidan Reade (Track Commission)

Also thanks to the photographers Anthony Gallagher who had a 5am start followed by a three and a half hour drive from Donegal and also Brendan Whelan who was kept awake all night by a frustrating incident involving leaking water pipes.


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