The growing reputation of Donegal for producing talent within the sport of cycling was again enhanced at National Level with a number of outstanding performances from our young riders at the National Youth Championships held in Limerick.
The event included three events held over two days with a time trial (TT) and road race (RR) on the Saturday and a Town Centre Criterium (Crit) on the Sunday.
Errigal Cycling Club’s (ECC) PJ Doogan was crowned all Ireland U12 Boys Champion following two days of racing around the roads of Limerick, winning it outright on the last day when he dominated the final event; a Criterium held around a tight hilly circuit in the town of Anacotty. The young Gortahork “Pocket Rocket” broke away on his own early in the race to go on and win by a considerable margin, PJ has now set the bar for all of Donegal’s youth riders and his success can only encourage the County’s growing band of young riders.
Following PJ’s example, Dylan Traynor (ECC) from Crolly followed up his recent success in the Errigal International Youth Tour as winner of the Boys U11 Category with 4th place finish in both the RR and Crit and a 5th place finish in the TT; a great performance from a young lad in his first year of racing. Also in his first year of racing Michael McGlynn (ECC) from Brockagh done well in the U12 Category with an 8th place finish in the TT and a 10th place in the RR.
In the Boys U14 Category Ciaran McFadden (ECC) continued his great form this season with a 4th place finish in the RR and a 5th in the Crit and having recently represented Ulster in the Errigal International Youth Tour Ciaran has gone from strength to strength this year and is one to watch for the future. In the same category Noel Sweeney followed his recent strong performance in the Ulster Championships with a strong showing in all three events. In the Boys U15 category Christopher Carter (North Pole CC) put in good rides throughout the weekend as did the Letterkenny duo of Dillon McGarrigle (ECC) and Jordan McGinley (ECC) in the Boys U16 events.
Not to be outdone by the boys, Donegal’s girls had a fantastic weekend with young Orla Harkin (ECC) from Falcaragh winning a silver medal following an outstanding ride in the Girls U12 TT and bronze medals in both the RR and Crit. This was Orla’s first major event and she showed that she is an emerging talent for the future.
In the U13/14 category Roisin Carter (North Pole CC) had a superb weekend winning silver in the RR and Crit with a 5th place finish in the TT to finish 3rd Overall, a great performance from the Inishowen girl. Shauna McFadden (ECC) from Letterkenny had a 5th place finish in both the RR and Crit and a 6th place finish in the TT and showed that she has plenty of her father Sean’s determination by winning a special mention as the weekends most aggressive girl racer!
Ciara Doogan (ECC) from Gortahork continued the family’s winning ways with a silver medal in the TT, unfortunately Ciara suffered a bad fall during the RR and ended her day in an ambulance, the crash ended Ciara’s very real hope of an overall win but did not stop the gutsy Gortahork lass from getting back on her bike to start the next days Criterium. Joining Ciara in the ambulance on the Saturday was Letterkenny’s Kirsty McIllwaine (ECC) who was also involved in the same crash, like her team-mate, Kirsty bravely elected to take part in the following days Crit taking 4th place to add to her 4th place in the U15/16 TT. Continuing the Harkin family success, Amy Harkin (ECC) from Falcaragh rode a great race to just miss out on a podium place with a 4th place finish in the Girls U16 RR.
The popularity of cycling in Donegal is currently at an all time high and with the growing reputation of our young riders on the National stage together with events like the International Youth Tour held recently in the Churchill / Letterkenny area the popularity of the sport in our County can only continue to grow.
Indeed the consensus of opinions from cycling teams as far a field as South Africa and Spain’s Basque Country following Errigal Cycling Club’s recent Youth Tour, is that Donegal is not only a place of outstanding natural beauty and warm people but is also a great place for a bike race!!