INTERNATIONAL: An historic year for Ireland
The 2019 season was an historic one for Ireland which culminated in the crowning of their 1st World Individual Champion in Poland in August. The International year for Ireland started at Ipswich with the 2019 Home Internationals where Ireland had teams in all 3 categories. The Over 40’s were first up where the same 4 riders who rode in the 2018 event at Great Blakenham, Ray Pyke, Paddy Wenn and co-managers Steve Copping & Gary Colby, were joined by Norwich’s Dave Blackmore. An exclusion to Gary in his 2nd race cost Ireland 3rd place as Scotland pipped them by 2 points, 39 to 37, England having won with 58 points ahead of Wales on 43. Paddy top scored for Ireland with 15 points, losing only to England’s Mark Whitehead in his last race. Gary scored 8, Ray 7, Steve 4 and Dave 3
The Ireland team after the Over 40’s Home International at Ipswich (Photo taken by Chris Ward)
Ray swapped his racing gear for his referee’s gear to take charge of the Junior match where Ireland fielded a Select team which comprised of Adam Cooper, Owen Wells, Scott Colby, Charlie Lyth & James Porter. Adam top scored with 12 points with Charlie scoring 10, Owen & James scored 9 each and Scott scored 3. Adam’s fall in heat 12 cost Ireland 2nd place as Wales pipped Ireland to 2nd place with 45 points to Ireland’s 43, England having won with 63 points with a Scotland Select 4th with 27 points.
The Senior match saw Jonjo Slaughter, Craig Norton, Richard Williamson, Harley Hamill & Patrick Kruger don the green of Ireland and they managed 34 points between them to finish ahead of Scotland with England & Wales having finished 1st & 2nd. Jonjo top scored with 9 points, Craig scored 8, Richard & Patrick scored 6 each whilst Harley scored 5.
The action for Ireland moved to Poland and the World Championships. Paddy, Gary & Scott all donned Great Britain shirts for test matches against Poland at Swietochlowice and finished on the winning side as the Juniors won 75-73 with Scott scoring 1 point from his single ride whilst the Veterans won their match 95-81 with Paddy scoring 13 points and Gary scoring 5 .Next up was the World Pairs Championships which were also staged at Swietochlowice where Ireland had teams in the Veterans & Senior events. Paddy & Gary rode in the Veterans event and scored 17 points (Paddy 10, Gary 7) as Ireland finished 4th. The Senior event saw Craig & Harley joined by Leigh Cossey and they scored 13 points (Craig 8, Leigh 5 and Harley was excluded from his only ride)
Paddy was then selected for a Rest of the World Veterans team which defeated Poland 81-69 at Kalety, Paddy scoing 13 of those points. The action then moved on to Poczesna for the World Cup Elimination Round where Ireland needed to finish in the top 3 to progress to the final but it wasn’t to be as they could only finish 4th with 28 points. Paddy top scored with 10 points, Leigh scored 8, Harley scored 6 and Craig scored 4 but suffered a broken collarbone in a crash which ended his involvement in the championships. Earlier in the day Leigh scored 8 points in the 1st Open Individual Elimination event which meant he progressed to the repechages. Harley would join Leigh in the Repechages after scoring 12 points in his Elimination heat. Both Leigh and Harley advanced to the quarter finals from the repechages, Harley scoring 17 points in the 1st event and Leigh scored 16 in the 2nd event. Neither rider subsequently took part in the quarter finals.
Paddy also rode in a further match for Rest of the World against Poland at Torun where he scored 16 points as ROW won 100-79. Paddy qualified for the Veterans World Final which would mean 2 World Finals in 1 day for him as he would race in the inaugural Grand Veterans World Championship also. Before those 2 events he scored 22 points for Great Britain as they won the inaugural veterans Federation Cup.
World Finals Day saw Paddy score 9 points in the Veterans World Final to finish joint 12th but before that he made history as the first Ireland rider ever to win a World Individual title as he clinched the inaugural Grand Veterans World Championship with a 16 point maximum
Paddy Wenn with his trophy for becoming the inaugural Grand veterans World Champion (photo taken by Phil Clarke)
Attention now turns to 2020 for Ireland as a team as they are hoping to send a Senior team to Newport on March 22nd for the Celtic Cup. May 30th sees the Home Internationals being staged in Scotland for the 1st time in 11 years with Fife staging the event before the World Championships round off the International year in Australia in November & December