The Westport Covey Wheelers Club Championship road race took place last Saturday, Sept 16 th as the finale of the cycling season approaches. This event is kindly supporting each year by the family of the late cycling stalwart Pat McNally and is raced for the old Ras Connachta Cup that bears his name.
Many of the McNally family come back to Westport for this race each year and the Covey Wheelers club would like to again say a big thank you to them for this very welcome support.
On race day the riders were faced with poor weather conditions resulting in a slight reduction to the normally large field. The riders would have to brave the wind and rain on a lap around the beautiful but tough roads of the Doolough Valley, via Louisburg and finishing back on the outskirts of Westport for a race distance of 72km.
With a handicap system in place three groups were set off with 15 minutes separating the front and back groups giving everyone a very real chance of becoming club champion. With the first two groups working hard together, the scratch group of just three A1/A2/A3 riders had their work very much cut out to get on level terms with the middle group
of A4 and youth riders. But after a sustained effort merged with them just as the race turned at Ashleigh Falls back towards Westport.
At this point the great riding ahead by the Ladies and club riders in the front group was obvious as they still held 6 minutes of a lead, and with just 25km remaining those behind really had to get
moving if they were going to contest for the win. As the pace upped behind and cooperation dropped the first attack was put in by promising youth rider Keith Mulroy which eventually had the
effect of splitting this group with just Keith, A1 rider Richard Meaney and A3 rider Eamon Daly setting off in pursuit of the front of the race. Battling into a headwind the front group of five was
reduced to three with 10km remaining and the gap at this point to the three strong chasers was still at about 3minutes so holding on looked a real possibility. But with a long drag at Cushlough to be faced the gap tumbled just as Keith Mulroy lost his place in the chase group after a brave ride.
So with only 4k remaining to the finish it was Richard Meaney and Eamon Daly who caught and broke the hearts of the 3 long time leaders Lorraine Mulchrone, Walter Lyons and Joe O’Toole. From here on it was a tactical battle with Eamon Daly first to push for home, Richard Meaney followed and counterattacked with 1km to go to take a solo win and the Covey Wheelers Club Championship to add to his Connacht Championship from a month earlier. Eamon Daly’s strong ride was rewarded with second place and an exceptional performance from Lorraine Mulchrone saw her come home next for third place and the first ladies’ prize.
Walter Lyons was first unplaced A4 rider close behind in 4 th with Jason O’Callaghan taking first unplaced A2 rider in 5 th and Keith Mulroy the first youth rider in 6 th place.
Joe O’Toole was unfortunate to miss out on a top 5 finish, crashing late on, speedy recovery Joe.
A very well attended presentation took place at the Mill Times Hotel Westport afterwards where the McNally Cup and all category prizes were handed out. A big thank you from the club to all those who have helped out during the year with running and marshalling of races and all other club activities. With the racing season coming to a close its now back to enjoying Sunday morning club spins, see you all on the road.
We also had a very successful Juniors race and had winners in all categories presented with their prizes as part of the full nights presentation and meal.