Taking place at Awesome Walls Dublin on Saturday 29th of November, the Senior Irish Lead Climbing Championships attracted some of the top climbers from all over the island of Ireland. The competition was an opportunity for these climbers to test their climbing skills on a trio of varied routes set by the route setting team of Rob Napier, Brian Hall and Juan O Raw.
The climbers competing in five different competition categories, Senior Male, Senior Female, Masters Male (45+), Masters Female (45+) and Veterans Male (60+) had their qualification routes demonstrated for them by the route setters before the serious business got underway.
As the climbers made their attempts on the qualification routes the on form climbers began to emerge. In Veterans Male Terence O Neill - a member of the Irish Mountaineering Club - put in two very convincing performances. Jana Cervenkova managed the technical top out on her first qualifier as well as getting highest on the more physical qualifier two for the Masters Female category. In Masters Male it was neck and neck between defending champion Conor O Connor and first time entrant Martin Cervenkova. In Senior Female Lucy Mitchell looked strong and confident on the first two climbs, a step ahead of the rest of her competitors. In Senior Male Eoin Acton climbed himself into the top spot after the two qualifier routes ahead of Dominic Burns and Daragh O Connor.
The first of the finals to take place was for the Veterans Male. First out of the block was Kevin Byrne. Kevin dug deep to recover from a sequencing error midway through the steep terrain of the Awesome Walls Prow to reach about three quarters of the way up the route, and in doing so putting a lot of pressure on the next competitors. Sean Barrett looked comfortable on his final route, smooth confident climbing saw him near Kevin’s highpoint but his attempt ended just a move or two short. Last of the veterans to climb was Terrence O Neil. Terrence looked good in the qualifiers and he continued his form through to the final. Despite being pushed on the final section of the route he managed to keep in control to reach the top of the route.
The Masters Female contest had so far been too close to call, with any of the finalists being capable of taking the top spot on the podium. Joan Flanagan and Cheryl Jones were very evenly matched on the final climb, employing a very similar sequence, pace and style on the route. Cheryl just edged ahead of Joan by two moves and got well established on the route. With only Jana left to climb the result was still very open. However as soon as Jana got on the wall she set off up the route with a pace and confidence that marked her out for first place. Passing Joan’s and Cheryl’s high point Jana clinched the victory and kept on climbing.
In the Masters Male category it was a really close contest between the two front runners Conor O Connor and Martin Cervenkova. For his final route Martin employed a unique sequence that really seemed to play to his strengths. He climbed quickly and confidently all the way through the route. Martin set up and powered to the final hold of the climb, reaching the hold but not being able to hold it. Conor used a more straightforward sequence through the steep route, he continued to look strong on the head wall and as he set up for the final move he looked more in control than Martin. Sure enough Conor held onto the final hold and with it his hold on the title.
The Senior Male category was one of the most hotly contested categories of the day. Eoin Acton was the only climber to reach the top of both qualifying routes and went into the final in top spot. Daragh O Connor played to his strengths and bouldered his way up the route, taking the dyno in his stride. Daragh kept on climbing as quick as he could to get as high as possible, a good tactic! Next up the highly experienced competition climber Eddie Cooper took a more measured approach, managing to pass Daragh’s high point before coming undone. Next out on the final route was Dom Burns. Dom took the route in his stride passing the previous high point and dispatching the tough and technical climbing about as well as the boulder crux at the top of the route to reach the top hold. Eoin looked very strong and confident on the lower section of the route, he remained in control throughout, climbing accurately and efficiently. Passing Daragh’s high point he began to falter a little but recovered to match Eddie’s high point, only to come undone going for the next hold.
The Senior Female final was looking like it might be a really close result with the first four competitors coming off the route in a very similar position. Vicki Cleary powered up through the steep section and hung on in to establish a new high point. Lucy Mitchell - the defending champion - never looked under too much pressure during her attempt and reached the top of the route to retain her title.
Full competition results are available here: Results - 2014 Irish Lead Climbing Championship