Scottish Juniors win at Ward Junior Home Internationals

Over the weekend of 11th – 13th October the Scottish Junior Team travelled to Northern Ireland for the Ward Junior Home Internationals. The individual races were held on the Saturday at Cassey Water in the Mourne Mountains and the relays at Donard Forest.

The Saturday was a gorgeous sunny day with great views out to the south, but all eyes were focussed on the boulder field where spectators tried to spot the returning juniors. There was lots of excitement as muddy juniors returned, many with tales of man-eating bogs hidden by tussocky grass.

Pre-race preparations (Photo: Judy Brown)

There were great results from the Scottish team with the 14 girls taking all the silverware with Isobel Howard (MOR) in 1st place,  Alice Kemsley (BASOC) 2nd and Faith Kenyon (MOR) 3rd. Rachel Brown (ESOC) won the W16 and Eilidh Campbell (MAR) was 1st on W18, with Megan Keith (INVOC) 2nd on the W18. The boys also rose to the challenge with a 3rd place in M16 from Sam Griffin (GRAMP), with Matthew Gooch (MAR) 1st and Peter Molloy (FVO) 3rd in M18.

Isobel, Alice and Faith on the Podium (Photo: Will Heap)

The juniors then all retired to the YMCA at Greenhill for hot showers (to remove the layers of face paint as well as the mud). The points were all counted and Scotland had just managed the win with 77 points, 76 for England, 33 for Ireland and 29 for Wales. After dinner and prize giving, everyone still had energy for ceilidh dancing.

Ceilidh Dancing (Photo: Will Heap)

It was all to play for at the relays on the Sunday. Both the girls and boys relays have the 16’s on the 1st leg, handing over to the 14s with 18s on the last leg. The handover area for the relays was within the grounds of the YMCA at Greenhill with the courses looping onto the steep forested slopes of Donard Forest, where areas of felling and wind blow resulted in some difficult underfoot conditions.

The weather on the Sunday was not as kind with a steady rain falling by the time the relays started. However Louis and Peter gave a rousing speech to the juniors as the war paint was applied (full saltires for everyone), and Louis and his bagpipes then drowned out the chants of the other teams as first the W16 girls and then the M16 boys set off.

There were some very anxious Scots as the English girls all returned before the Scottish girls.  The 14 girls then had some great runs to claw back time, with Faith Kenyon handing over to Alice Wilson just seconds before the 1st English team. Isobel Howard returned not long after to hand over to Eilidh Campbell.

There was great excitement as Alice Wilson came into sight at the same time as Anika Schwartz from England and had a gruelling fight for the line with England just winning by seconds. Eilidh Campbell then finished in 3rd place. The score was a draw with England on the girls relay – could the boys do it?

The M16 boys kept the excitement up, returning just behind the English. However, the top ranked English team miss-punched at the last control – running straight past it in the excitement and rush to reach the handover area. The M14s had great runs but it was all down to the 18 boys. The nail-biting resumed, until the shout came that Scotland were 1, 2 and 3 at the radio control. The excitement in the team as Peter, Louis and then Matthew came into view was incredible – many are still hoarse from shouting!

Scotland had done it, winning the individuals and the relays to take the overall win and take the trophies home for another year.

Congratulations to the whole team and thanks to the Northern Irish Orienteering Association for organising a fantastic weekend of orienteering.

Results of the individuals are available at:

And Will Heap has some fantastic shots of the action (including the ceilidh dancing) at: