Report by Siobhán Grant
As we move into the latter half of the Hill and Dale Series, there is still all to run for…or throw yourself down a mountain for.
Tom Crudgington continues to impress during the series as he prepares for his trip to Austria for the U20 World Mountain Championships next month. Using his impeccable climbing skills he used the first climb up Rocky to put some space between himself and the rest of the field. As he glided over the skyline towards Pierces Castle, he had secured a comfortable lead to allow himself to take the ‘less fun’ route to the finish to add another win in this years series.
Patrick McDaid has continued to push himself to the limit, week in, week out over this series. His young legs ensured a speedy ascent of Donard last week and a blistering fast descent back down again to secure 32nd place and first junior in 1.08.08. It seemed on paper like a family affair as dad Damian followed 1 second behind. Patrick then rocked up to the Rocky circuit on Thursday and on the final technical part of the course there was a change in narrative as he was just behind the head of the house who held onto the lead crossing the line in 22nd and 25th respectively with only 9 seconds separating them.
Yasin Brannigan has demonstrated his flawless ability to move between terrains with ease. Setting off with club mate Patrick in the opening climb, Yasin continued to utilise his speed on the trail to secure 50th place in 41.52, making up a number of places as he came off Pierces Castle for the final descent of the evening.
Ciara Savage has remained in the country long enough to give both the Donard Race and the Rocky Circuit her all. Maintaining her place for the second year in a row as the Top Junior Female at Slieve Donard, she made light work of the climb to the top of the highest mountain in the Mournes and navigated the descent skillfully to secure 117th place in 1.30.41. Five days later she was toeing the line at Leitrim Lodge and embracing her return to the open mountains. Met by rapturous applause from the younger Juniors who admire her and look up to her at training every Monday night, Ciara acknowledged her supporters as she looked ahead to the finish line where she again took 1st junior female in a time of 47.18 for 117th place for a second week.
This week the Junior squad will be taking on Lukes. A relatively new route to the series, it offers the rough and raw terrain of the Trassey and Slievenagloch in the inital climb and many opportunities to avoid copious amounts of gorse bushes and streams on the descent.