Keith O’Connell finishes 3rd in Mullingar GP while Michael Flynn takes 2nd in Connaught Champs.

Following on from a 5th place in the Overall of the A4 Mullingar 2 day in 2012, Keith O’Connell has gone 2 spots better with a 3rd place finish in the Mullingar A3 GP last Sunday. Michael Flynn having scored points in a number of races recently romped home to take 2nd in the Connaught Champs on a tough course in Sligo.

Keith’s Race Report: Having missed the break in the Tommy Burke race on Friday evening I was determined to take something from the weekend so I had a simple plan to attack and get into any move going. Patjoe was also racing his first A3 only and along with Pat Monaghan as support were the only other Coveys there.

The course was a 37k lap on wide open roads with a couple of nice pulls similar to Sheeaune. There was a strong wind on the outward direction which provided a nice tailwind on the return leg. Couple the wind with some heavy showers and you have tough, dirty conditions albeit on good road surfaces.

A number of small attempts were made into the headwind on the first lap but nothing stuck. I jumped across to a lone rider but with no other rider coming across I sat up and went back to the bunch. Coming upto the turnabout the pace was lifted through the roof and we were stretched across the road, a crosswind added to the misery after the turn as a number of us were nearly shelled out the back when riders started to let wheels go.

The Chairman in his usual pose - Tongue out.

The Chairman in his usual pose – Tongue out.

On the second lap I attacked after coming out of a roundabout and got a good gap. I waited to see who was coming after me, a Dungarvan rider first, Patjoe with a UCD rider in tow and we set off. But with a tailwind the bunch closed us down handy enough. Patjoe had another crack on a narrow section of road and got into a 10 man breakaway but that too was closed down before the start of the third lap.

As we took the bell I was hanging off the back trying to take off my gillet when the comms called Pat up. The zipper was stuck so the comms leaned out the window to help, but no good. At this stage I was 30 yards off the back and had to dig in hard to get back on into the headwind on my own. I worked my way back to the top of the bunch and noticed that 2 riders had clipped off the front and nobody was chasing into the headwind. The bunch was settling in for sprint finish! Time to go I thought and jumped. 2 riders came across to me soon enough and we set off for the two guys up the road. Another rider bridged across just as we caught the front two and we put the hammer down. 30k to go and we quickly got out to around a minute in the head wind. A couple of drags started to whittle down the group and by the time we had the tailwind we were down to 3 riders. The finish wasn’t coming soon enough as we drove the pace on through the narrow section and as we approached the finish my breakaway companions lit up the after burners. In the end I was happy to hold out for 3rd as the bunch nearly closed us down. Patjoe finished at the head of the bunch just outside the top ten running out of juice in the final 500m. Well done to Pat Monaghan who took all the Strava segments having left his phone on during the ride!

Keith on the podium

Keith on the podium

A great event and well run by Lakeside Wheelers.

Michael’s Race Report: It’s funny how things work out. 12 hours earlier I was planning a new bid to bag those allusive A4 points in Mullingar now I’m changing at the side of the road in the lashing rain getting ready for the Connaught Championships in Sligo. I had heard about the Connaught Championship during week from Colm Staunton who reckoned the hilly course would suit me but I was hungry for points so it was Mullingar for me. I only found out the night before that Mullingar was pre-entry only and I wasn’t going to chance a 2hr drive only to be told I couldn’t race. So I here I was for Connaught A4 Championship race, wind, rain, the only covey, the signs were ominous.

The A4 race got underway as the rain cleared and the drama started straightaway. With less than 1K done one of Eire Og guys misread the first corner and took down of couple of riders. Thankfully I managed to avoid the crash and we continued to Hungry Rock where the real racing would kick off. I had planned to wait till the last lap before I’d attack the climb but I had the usual rush of blood and went for it straight away. Half way up the climb I was starting to regret this decision as a couple of rider seemed to pass me effortlessly and my legs were on fire. Luckily I managed to recover and I regained contact with them and the three of us crested the summit together.

Mick in action.

Mick in action.

After a couple kilometres we were joined by Jerry Towey, who made a fearless decent to join the breakaway. The group worked well from the start and it was looking good for breakaway but with no time checks we had to keep a good pace. On the second ascent of Hungry Rock Jerry lost contact with the group and rode heroically to the finish on his own despite serious discomfort caused by a new prosthetic. The three remaining riders continued to work well until the last lap when the attacks started. First to go was Joe Mulleady, from Leitrim CC. Enda Molony, from Éire Óg CC, spotted the move and was straight on his wheel. I was caught napping but with a good tail wind I managed to regain contact after couple of nervous minutes.

I decided to have a go myself on the drag out of Ballisadare with a about 5k to go. The lads showed they both were still strong and reeled me in just as we started the decent to the foot of Hungry Rock. The medals were going to be decided on the hill top finish. Half way up we were all together when Enda turned on the heat. With 500m to go I noticed Joe had lost contact but I was still hanging on to Enda wheel in the perfect position I thought as I thought Joe was the strongest rider. With 200m Enda made the winning move but I nothing left for the sprint and ended the day second. Great race and challenging route, it was a pity the numbers for both races was low though. I only heard after the finish that this race was classified as an open race so I picked up a few points after all.

Mick taking 2nd on the hill top finish

Mick taking 2nd on the hill top finish