INTERNATIONAL: Ireland review of 2023

All photos in this article were taken by Terry Scriven unless stated otherwise

Ireland’s riders have seen plenty of action during 2023 internationally both at team and Individual level. The year started at Newport for the Home Internationals with teams in the Over 40’s and Senior events. The Over 40’s event saw Lee Ashman, Paddy Wenn, Gary Colby, Steve Copping and Dave Blackmore representing Ireland and they finished 4th with 33 points, their cause not helped by Lee crashing in his 2nd ride and suffering a broken collarbone. Paddy top scored with 11 points, Steve scored 9, Gary 7, Dave 4 and Lee 2. The Senior event followed and it was another 4th place finish for Ireland with 27 points. The Herbert brothers Aaron & Jack scored 7 points each, Owen Wells scored 6, Steve 4 and Patrick O’Shea 3

Attention then turned to the World Championships in Australia and Paddy was the first Ireland rider in action at Findon on November 18th when he represented Great britain in the Over 40’s federation Cup, scoring 1 point from 1 ride as GB finished 3rd with 32 points behind Poland on 39 and Australia on 46. It was Leon Mower’s turn to don a GB shirt in the Senior Federation Cup where he scored 2 points as GB finished 3rd with 80 points behind Poland on 88 and Australia on 99.

The following day at Murraylands it was the opening test matches between Australia and GB and the Over 40’s match saw Lee and Paddy don their GB shirts. Paddy scored 6 points and Lee 4 as GB were defeated by 108 points to 70. The Senior match saw Leon score 10 points but like the Over 40’s team (and the Women’s team earlier in the day) GB were defeated by 95 points to 83

Tuesday 21st November saw the 2nd Over 40’s test match between GB and Australia take place at Salisbury with Paddy and Lee in action for GB once again. Paddy scored 9 points and Lee 2 as GB were beaten 102-77. lee only took 2 rides after falling in his 2nd ride and injuring the same collarbone he broke at Newport which would rule him out of the Over 40’s World Cup.

Thursday 23rd November saw qualifiers for the World Over 40’s Individual Championship take place at Findon & Salisbury with riders needing to be in the top 10 to qualify for the semi-finals, failing that they needed to be the next 2 highest scorers across all 3 events. Steve rode in the Salisbury event and scored 10 points which put him in a tie for 11th place, one of 4 riders across the 3 rounds who scored 10 points meaning that a run-off would be needed at Le Fevre ahead of the World Cups . Paddy rode at Findon in their 1st event and scored 15 points to make the semi-finals.

The following night was Senior World Individual Championship Quarter-Finals night and the 3 Ireland riders who entered were all in action at Findon. Owen rode in the 1st event and scored 6 points whilst Findon rider Chris Bull, who qualified for Ireland by virtue of the fact his Grandparents were Irish, matched Owen’s score in the 2nd event. leon also rode and scored 14 points to qualify for the semi-finals

World Cup day (Saturday 25th November) started off with a 4 rider run-off for the last 2 places in the Over 40’s World Individual semi-finals. Steve was one of those riders where he would be up against Danny Ricketts as well as Ian & Gary Lawrence. Ian won the run-off with Danny 2nd after passing Steve on the run-in to the finish. Steve would be 1st reserve for the semis. The Over 40’s World Cup saw Steve and Paddy join up with John Murphy (who celebrated his 80th birthday the previous day) but Lee would be missing due to injury. John top scored with 7 points, Paddy scored 6 and Steve 5 as Ireland finished 4th on 18 points.

The Ireland Over 40’s World Cup team at Le Fevre.

Paddy and Steve would then join up with Leon, Chris and Owen for the Senior event which saw another 4th place finish, this time with 23 points. Chris, Leon, Owen and Steve scored 5 each whilst Paddy scored 3.

The Ireland Senior team before the World Cup at Le Fevre.

2 days later it was World Over 40’s Individual Semi-Finals night and the 1st semi saw Paddy ride and score 11 points which wasn’t enough to get him into the final. Steve was called into the 2nd semi following the withdrawal through injury of Warren Corbett but he couldn’t capitalise on his reprieve, scoring 6 points in what was the tougher of the 2 semis

The following night saw the Senior World Individual Semi-Finals take place at Le Fevre. Leon rode in the 1st semi, scoring 5 points,

On the 2017 tour Steve rode in an unofficial GB v Australia test match at Le Fevre and that match gave him something to aim for – to ride for the official Great Britain Over 40’s team. On Wednesday 29th November Steve finally realised that ambition as he was called up for the final test between Australia and Great Britain and what made it even sweeter for Steve was that the match would be at Salisbury, where he made his debut for Ireland in the 3009 World Cup. Paddy also rode for GB at Salisbury, scoring 10 points as GB won by 105 points to 74, Steve scoring 2 points

Paddy Wenn and Steve Copping before the final Over 40’s Test match. Photo taken by John Wildman using Steve’s phone

The Great Britain Over 40’s team after the final test against Australia.

Friday 1st December saw the Grand Veterans World Final decided at Salisbury and having qualified for the final via a pre-qualifier Paddy finished 7th with 13 points in the defence of his title that he won at Leszno in 2019

The World Pairs Championships rounded off the tour at Le Fevre on Sunday 3rd December and Ireland had teams in the Over 40’s and Senior events. The Over 40’s saw Steve and Paddy joined by Lee and they finished 4th with 19 points, Paddy scoring 11, Steve 6 and Lee 2. For Steve it meant he finally scored some points in a World Pairs event of any description, having not scored any points in the 2011 Senior World Pairs at Edenton, USA where a 4-3-2-0 scoring system was used then. The Senior event saw Leon, Owen and Chris represent Ireland and they finished 5th with 14 points, Owen and Chris each scoring 6 whilst Leon scored 2.

Ireland will still have joint team managers in 2024 although Dave Blackmore will join Steve in that role after Gary decided to stand down after almost 20 years