National Underage Championships
Our club was ably represented at the National U/age Championships, hosted by Bray Wheelers, by Niall Rock (U12), Grace McNally & Michael Daly (U14), Sean Rock (U15) and James Whelan (U16).
Stage 1 was a short, fast & furious, TT along the promenade in Bray and was followed in the afternoon by 6 separate criterium races (which I was fortunate to see) for the various age categories. This stage proved to be exciting stuff, run on a tight .6 mile circuit that included a hill and some tricky corners. In the U11 race, saw Colm Crawley’s niece Ciara (Balbriggan CC) given a good account of herself, and a rising star Benner Maguire from Drogheda Wheelers lead for the first few laps despite being just 9 years of age. Benner gave it everything and finished the weekend 8th overall in the U11 category. Next up was the U12 race with Niall, and Stephen McKenna’s sister Laura. Niall, as cool as you like, never moved outside the top 6 for the entire race and finish 4th. Niall showed consistent form over the weekend with 4th in the TT,4th in the Crit and 3rd in the Road Race. Next up for Swords was Grace McNally & Michael Daly in the U14 Crit. The pace in this race was quite intensive, but both riders were up to the task. At the midpoint 6 riders looked like they might go clear w ith a short gap to three riders which incl the Swords duo. We needn’t have worried as the next lap was lead out by Michael, and Grace was at the head of affairs at the next lap. Shortly after this Grace didn’t show for the next lap having crashed (& punctured) on the back end of the circuit. Back on for next lap but there was too little time to get back in contention but still managed 8th. Nearly missed Michael in the sprint as a rider, Gavin Brown, crashed yards from the line and actually slid across the line (just) for 4th place. Gavin had also crashed earlier in the race but ended the weekend as the U14 All Ireland Champion. Michael Daly added his 6th placing in the Crit to 8th in the TT, and a good showing in Road Race gave him 7th place overall. Certainly a rider coming into a rich vein of form and should do well in the Kerry Youth Tour.
Next up was Sean in the U15 race. This race did split up considerably, but Sean stayed in the lead group throughout finishing 10th for the stage. He was quite pleased with his performance, as he had come back from a few weeks in the Gaeltact, where he undoubtedly went to bed early every night !!! He also made it into the break in the road race and finished 8th in that. The U16 race had James Whelan representing us. Unfortunately he got caught behind a crash early on and couldn’t get back in contention. Stephen McKenna (Balbriggan CC) was well up there, but his luck ran out the next day in the Road Race over a quite hilly course, when in the break a short distance from the finish……his chain snapped. Great racing for those who were fortunate enough to be in it and for those who were fortunate enough to see it.
Report from Michael Daly Jnr. below:
It was an early start for the 8.30am sign on in Bray for the National Youth Championships 2002. The weather was good to start with but there was some dodgy dark clouds hanging around but we did manage to get through the 2 day event without any major rainfall. The 1st stage was a 1km time trial along the sea front. It was so short it was really a sprint the whole way. When it was my turn I went all out, gave it my best and ended up joint 6th . Stage 2 was a crit around the back streets of bray and finishing on the sea front. We all got off to a flying start with plenty of attacks from the Killorglin and Kanturk lads and ended up lapping some of the dropped riders. Grace Mc Nally attempted an attack on the last lap but was clipped by the wheel of another rider and crashed. I was still hanging on in the group until the last corner when they pulled away leaving me to take 6th place. This was a very dangerous course and there were several crashes. One rider crashed just before the finished and managed to roll over the line to take 3rd place. By the end of these two events I was lying in 6th place overall. There was lots of plasters and bandaged to be seen on Sunday morning for the start of the 3rd stage, a 15 mile road race in Roundwood. This was a very hilly course and very hard for lots of riders including myself. The start of the race was on a downhill and a good few riders got dropped early. When we got to the last lap there was a break of six riders. Grace and I worked well together but those Wicklow hills were a killer and I ended up in 10th place and Grace in 9th. I lost my 6th position but managed to end the 2002 National Championships in 7th position overall. I was very happy with my performance as I beat many of my old rivals. See you in Killorglin lads!!!!!!!!!!!