Ras na nÓg is one of the premier stage races for youths in the country. Over the last number of years it has served as a rite of passage for many of our younger riders, with Darragh Long, Rachael Kaye Mellor, Naoise & Fionn Sheridan and Sean Murnane among the many who have used it as a springboard to subsequent junior and senior success. Former club man and current pro Sean McKenna tells the story of how he came dead last in his Ras.

The Ras is about so much more than winning though , it involves challenging yourself and when competing in a tough sport it is a pleasure to feel welcomed and looked after. Few do it better than Ger Campbell and his crew in Drogheda Wheelers.  With race HQ in a great location in Bellewstown Racecourse the event is well set. The local guards provide the lead car in the convoy with sirens blaring guaranteeing the roads are kept clear , the St Johns ambulance crew provide – regrettably necessary – excellent care and comfort to the afflicted and the council helpfully clear roadkill from beside where Terry Reilly parked up on the last day.

Gardai Safety Talk, Photo thanks to Áine Reilly

Of course, the voice of the Ras , Gaybo Howard, was missed and his absence was marked by a well observed minutes silence before Stage 1.

This year we sent 14 riders and 2 helpers North – in the U16s Caoimhe May, Clara Rock, Andrew Ryan, Dylan Baker, Conor Murphy and Ronan O’Connor were on the team . And for those who have been competing in club league Limit/ Semi-limit recently some of  those names and their back wheels will be familiar to you.

In the 14’s Ruairi Byrne, Annie Roche, Christopher Marshall & Katie Reilly lined up

While in the 12’s 2nd year vet  Killian O’Brien , Oisin May, Luca Holmes and Áine Reilly took to the start line.

Helping behind the scenes were the recovering-from-injury Ryan Fox and big sis Stephanie Roche.

Our roving reporter talked to some of those taking part and got their views  , while further on down you can read Aine Reillys  in-depth account.

Deep concentration on the start line. Photo thanks to Áine Reilly

Reporter: So tell us Luca, how was the event ?

LH : “I completed my first ever Ras na nÓg. There were 3 stages spread out over 2 days. The racing itself was great fun with a magnificent atmosphere.”

Reporter: Killian , what was the racing like?

KO’B: “Rás na nÓg was a great experience, with lots of riders and a very high standard it turned out to be very fast and hard. The courses were a good mix of descents, climbs and flat road. The races were all on time and had enough marshals, lead cars and motor bikes to keep them running smoothly.”

Reporter: Ruairi , talk us through the stages please,

RB:  “Stage one was a 1km criterium. It was good fun and was a great start to my race.
Stage two was the stage for me. It had a long nice climb which well suited me. There were attacks left right and centre at the start of the race.  I got into the break early on. In the last lap, I sprinted in for fifth. I was pleased with this result.
Stage three was a nice fun race [although] I didn't get placed. The weather was dull and grim. “

Reporter: I heard you stayed in a local hostel , is that right ?

LH: “Orwell booked a hostel for the night for the team.”

KO’B: “The hostel that we stayed in was great -- it was fairly big and there was enough space for everyone. Jen made very good food for breakfast lunch and dinner. “

Reporter: Tell us Ruairi , with such great racing and good teammates what’s your highlight of the weekend

RB: “We went to Burger King which for me was the icing on the cake!!”

Reporter: Anyone y’all would like to thank?

Luca: “I want to say thanks to Jen and all the parents for making it possible, my team mates in the U12 category and all the team”

Killian: “Thank you to Jen, Terry and Stephen for making this Rás na nÓg so memorable.”

Ruairi : “I would like to thank Jen and everyone else for all the help over last weekend.”

Under 16 Boys ready to go! Photo thanks to Gen Sheridan

The in-depth view from Áine Reilly (under 12 race)

It was an early start and a real rush on Saturday. We were supposed to meet at Joe Daly's but because of the rush to get everything and not to forget anything we missed it and headed out on the road to Bellewstown Race Course.

After a quick warm up and a lap of the course it was time to get ready to go. Katie went first but straight after her race was mine.

There was a crash on the neutralized lap but not a bad one, simply just a bang of wheels. Before long the race was on.

It was tough. I got dropped at the start but found a wheel I could grab on to. Just 4 laps was all I needed to stay in for. I was so relieved when the motor bike came beside me and told me to pull in, that I was about to be passed by the race leader.

It was much tougher than I thought. I felt really exhausted and cold after it but I still had a second race to go. When I got off the course I raced to the vans and got my clothes on to keep warm.

I relaxed till my 2nd race was soon to begin. I warmed up and got ready to go. Soon the race began. It was neutralized till after the first two corners and I got dropped just after them.

I stayed by myself for most of it, it was tough. At the last corner I was going too fast and crashed but I got back up a passed a girl on the last hill.

I was happy I had no more races on that day because I was so exhausted.  I headed back to the vans and did a quick cool down before watching the last races and heading to the hostel for a lovely dinner and a night of girls laughing.

The next day was another early start for our final race. We got up had breakfast and headed to Bellewstown race course to sign on.

After sign on we headed down to the race course which was in a different location than the other two stages. When we got there, we warmed up before the first stage. It started to rain a little bit but the wind was the worst, the course was easy it was just the wind.

I had a good sprint at the end of the 3rd race but it was just so though, I was so tired after 2 days of racing, but it was fun.

I would like to thank Jen and all the others who helped, it was really fun and a great race experience.

Katie ready to roll, photo thanks to Áine Reilly

And while its not all about the prizes , the team did take home their share of silverware


Óisin May - Stage 2 & 3: 1st unplaced U11. 6th overall:

Luca Holmes - Stage 1: 3rd unplaced U11


Ruairi Byrne – Stage 2: 5th

Annie Roche - Stage1  & stage 2: 2nd. Stage 3: 3rd – with an award for all round decency as she stopped to help a fallen cyclist.  3rd overall


Caoimhe May - Stage 1: 2nd, Stage 2 3rd. Overall 2nd:

Ronan O’Connor - Stage 2: 1st U15

Andrew Ryan - Stage 2: 3rd U15

Well done to all who took part , you did a great job and we in the club are very proud of you

Annie definitely had fun! Photo thanks to Áine Reilly