On Sunday 28th July over 30 riders signed on for the annual club championship which is sponsored by the McNally family. Pat McNally was one of the fore fathers of cycling in Westport having been an influential force back in the 1950’s and 1960’s, he coached and trained Mickey Palmer who went on to take a yellow jersey in the Ras. Pat McNally was known for the giving ‘the rub’ and also coached other sports during his long sporting life lasting well into his 90’s.
Stephen Breheny race director had to be change this year’s route at the last minute due to road works on the Newport road and the alternative rout of Louisburgh – Doolough – Aisleigh – Farnaught was more challenging considering the increased distance and direction of the wind.
The inform Ras riders of Patjoe O’Connell, James McGreevy and Richard Meaney were tipped as equal favourites along with Ben Walsh, Aaron Doherty, Shane Ryall and Eoghan McLaughlin who are all representing Ireland at various development teams.
The 72km handicapped race was split into 3 groups and if the front group worked well Siobhan O’Malley had been tipped to go all the way. However the jewel in the crown was the fledging racer Sean Maguire who is only racing 6 months. He was set off in group 2 with some seasoned racers such as Joe O’Toole and Tom McGreal. The group split after Louisburgh with the aforementioned trio of Maguire, O’Toole and McGreal dropping the others from the group over the short drags out of Louisburgh. The young rider seemed to turn the screw slightly just at the sharp hills at Cregganbaun and he took flight. He effortlessly made his away across to the remnants of the front group and blasting straight by them eventually catching group 1 consisting of Siobahn O’Malley, Martin Walmsley and Liam O’Suillebhain at the lakes at Doolough. At the top of the KOH climb Maguire once again turned the dial as O’Malley had dropped off by 30 yards and O’Suilleabhain seemed to be in difficulty.
The scratch group meanwhile had started with what seemed an insurmountable handicap but immediately set to work drilling the 11man strong group out to Louisburgh. The lack of a concerted effort left McGreevy no option but to put the hammer down and stretch things out coming into Louisburgh. There were big casualties going through the Valley with Tom Bourke and Eamon Staunton being caught the wrong side of some splits. The main chasers were now down to six by the top of the Delphi KOH these were the above-mentioned O’Connell, McGreevy, Meaney, Doherty, Walsh and McLaughlin some 3minutes back from Maguire. The remainder of the scratch group including Ger Corcoran, Colm Staunton, Michael Flynn and Shane Ryall all soldiering on picking up various riders along the way.
At the turn in Aisleigh Falls an untimely mistake by Aaron Doherty almost took out James McGreevy but they quickly regrouped and got organised showing great composure and the chasers powered on. They caught Siobhan O’Malley at the Errif Bridge where Eoghan McLaughlin was now faltering showing signs of tiredness from his efforts over the weekend at a National training camp in England. The chasers were now 1min 40sec and all looked over for the young gun out front.
However all was about to change…the scratch group began to pay for their earlier efforts and had simply gone too hard too early. James McGreevy blew up in Cushlough with Ben Walsh loosing contact shortly afterwards before Roohan crossroads. With 5km to go Maguire sailed by Liscarney post office looking aero and deep in concentration. The trio chasing him looked exhausted but were down to 30seconds and seemed to be going faster but somehow Maguire managed to cross the line at the top of Farnaught, hands aloft some 20seconds ahead of some of the best riders in the club galvanising his potential as one of the most promising talents in the club, not that there is a shortage!
In what was a great race the Podium was rounded out by Richard Meaney 2nd and Aaron Doherty 3rd. Patjoe O’Connell took the Unplaced A2/A3 Prize while back the road Siobhan O’Malley powered on leaving the aforementioned McLaughlin and grabbing a 7th place Overall, First A4 and the Ladies prize to boot. Liam O’Suillebahain took the Club Rider prize, Joe O’Toole took the Unplaced A4 prize and Unplaced U16 rider went to Ben Walsh.
Sean Maguire the winner on the day was presented with the McNally cup and a glass replica for his efforts at the presentation in the Mill Times Hotel. Westport Covey Wheelers CC club would like to thank all the marshals and the McNally family for their generous sponsorship and involvement in the club
The McNally family present Sean Maguire with his cup and trophy.
Anthony Harrison left with Sean Maguire 2015 Club Champion.
Category winners after their presentations.