2022 has been a hugely successful year for our youth section. Orwell Wheelers currently have 86 youth members (26 girls and 60 boys), and the massive growth in family cycling during the Covid pandemic is clear in the large number of U8 and U10 in this mix.

Our regular Sunday morning coaching sessions (usually in Corkagh Park) have been well attended for most of the year, with over 20 children not uncommon – numbers unheard of only a few years ago. A great team of about a dozen coaches has developed, and many underwent a coaching course with Aidan Hammond in the spring, which was really useful.

A weekend away in the Carlingford Adventure Centre in March got the year off to a great start, and is certainly something that we’d like to do again.

We ran 17 rounds of Monday Night Youth Racing in Corkagh Park from April to August, with over 600 entries from 22 clubs, in all four provinces: from U8 to U16. With every rider competing in a time trial, elimination race and handicap race on each evening, the skills and confidence developed quickly. There were some outstanding individual performances, with the Noel O’Neill trophy gonig to Ysabella Huele (U12): the first girl to win this prestigious award for a combination of results, commitment and spirit!

The Orwell One Day in May attracted 57 entries for a sunny day of fierce competition at all age levels, and our kids were also well represented at the Stephen Roche GP.

There were two trips abroad for our Under 16 riders. Áine Reilly and three guest riders rode the Youth Tour of Scotland in Orwell Colours, while a team of four (Luca Holmes, David Harrington, Patrick O’Sullivan and Killian O’Brien) travelled to the London 2 Day. Fantastic experiences for everyone concerned, along with a few (non-serious!) crashes and some seriously hard racing. 

When it comes to racing, we have a brilliant group of kids, and supportive parents, attending races all over the country.

We have new National Champions in James Cunningham (U11 Crit) and Katie Turner (U12G Crit), both of whom were very close to other wins in the nationals, and won loads of races through the year (Katie’s amazing win in the final stage of Rás na nÓg stands out: striking out solo with over 500m to go she beat everyone to the line, with the first boy back in third!).

Ysabella Huele’s racecraft improved through the year, and she got two silvers and a bronze at (U13) nationals, as well as winning the Leinster championships and finishing third U13 at the Foyle 3 Day in Derry. Chapeau!

Fionn Crinion (silver in U13 Crit) and Fionn Killeen (loads of placings throughout the year) featured regularly in a strong national U14 field. Davis Quinn won the Leinster Hillclimb champs.

Luca Holmes got third in U15 road nationals, while the U16 team were second in the road race, with Patrick O’Sullivan fourth over the line. Killian O’Brien won the Meath GP and Leinster Hillclimb champs, Killian and David Harrington won stages in Newcastlewest while Killian (1st overall), Connor Fennell (2nd), Patrick (8th), David and Luca all won club league races, showing the adults how it’s done!

There were mountain bike, cyclocross and track medals aplenty also, as well as lots of other kids performing brilliantly. Of course, it’s really not all about results – participations and friendship are the main goals here.

We now have child sizing available for a lot of club kit, and they wear it with pride! Club support for all these activities (financial, moral, the use of the club car …) make them all possible. The future is bright!