RECENTLY crowned Irish Cycling Club of the Year, Cuchulainn CCC celebrated their 2012 successes on Friday night in Ridley's Bar.
The brightly coloured lycra was left at home, replaced with equally bright Christmas jumpers. After the food was done and before the dancing started the awards for the year were handed out, with MC and Club President, Pat O`Shaughnessey, calling the winners to the stage.
The biggest competitive award on the night was the winner of the club's flagship event, The FPM Accountants Summer Cycling League. The event sees the cyclists do battle over 21 rounds, comprising a mix of flat and hilly road races, time trials and finishing off with a hill climb.
Consistency is what is required to win this league and this is exactly how Raymond O`Shaughnessey claimed the title. While not always first across the line, Ray went about his business from April through to August picking up points on a regular basis. It was no easy victory with Kenny Sullivan pushing him the whole way.
In fact Kenny led going into the final round, which doubled up as the Louth Hill Climb Championships, here Ray was victorious and clinched the league title by a mere two points. Kevin Trainor, Jim Loughran and Gary Morton rounded out the top five. Gary Gorman took the visitor's prize and Celeine McPhilips was first lady.
Celeine McPhilips was also the winner of the ladies league. Here it was in the time trials where she picked up the most points and held off Lisa Neary for the win, with Annette Dawe in third. Annette did earn herself a Louth jersey by winning the Hill Climb Championships in late August. Her Louth title was the second in the Dawe household this year, with her sister Breda winning the ladies Louth Road Race Championships.
The Mountain Bikers off-road league also saw an epic battle between newcomer to the trails Gary Morton and the more experienced Ed Lennox. Ed screamed into an early lead in the first few rounds, but Gary kept chipping away at his lead and again it came down to the final round for Ed to secure the victory. Terry McEneaney was third overall.
The other big club event, from the tail end of 2011, was the Carrick Cycles Christmas Time Trial. Here Gerry McCabe repeated his 2010 win, leading home Owen Martin and Karl Dolan. Eve McCrystal showed glimpses of what was to come by winning the ladies event, in a time that saw her finish in the top eight overall. Annette Dawe and Michelle Dolan rounded out the podium.
The Louth Championships were dominated by Dundalk riders with the club winning all bar one jersey, the ladies mountain bike event. The first Louth Championships of the year was the road race, where Cuchulainn dominated taking the top three spots in the men's race, with Colm Quinn winning a close sprint against Peter Tomany and Ray O`Shaughnessey.
Ray did earn himself a Louth Championship by claiming both the Mountain Bike and Hill Climb jerseys. Claiming the silver in the Mountain Bike Championships was Rio 2016 hopeful Aaron McCann, who gave Ray a good battle the whole way. The ladies mountain bike county event was won by Meave Baxter, with Cuchulainn's Sandra O`Hagan in second spot..The Louth Time Trial Championships saw the Christmas winners again take the spoils with Eve McCrystal winning the women's and Gerry McCabe the mens.
As always the club awards were the highlight of the night. Volunteer of the Year went to Gary Shiels for his tireless efforts throughout the season. Gary's crowning achievement, among many, was as race director for a round of the off road national points series. Such was the level of professionalism at the event that it raised the bar for event organisation for cycling throughout country. The buzz generated from the race went a long way towards securing the club it's second Club of the Year title.
Male Racing Cyclist of the Year went to Raymond O`Shaughnessey. Ray launched his season in style by winning the Conemara 3 Day on the Easter weekend and followed this up with an excellent debut as part of the Louth Cycling Team in the An Post Rás. Most Improved Male Cyclist was underage rider Aimhirghin O`Brannigan, who earned himself a Leinster medal on the track.
The off-road rider of the year was another one for the future Aaron McCann who had numerous podium finishes in the NPS Off Road League, as well as winning a Leinster Off Road medal. Jason Boyle was the winner of two awards, firstly as Leisure Cyclist of the Year for the shear number of miles logged in sportives up and down the country.
He was also awarded the Hero of the Year award, for his exploits in the French Alps, where he conquered the climbs of the Tour de France. He beat off stiff competition from Eve MyCrystal, who picked up a European Garda Medal, and Martin Gray the countires' National Veterans Champion.
Female cyclist of the year went to Deirdre Armstrong, whom in her first year of club racing was competitive throughout the season in road races and time trials alike. A remarkable achievement for someone who had never sat on a bike before 2011. The most improved Female Cyclist of the Year was Lisa Neary, who claimed the runner's up spot in the Ladies Cycling League.
With all the medals and jerseys handed out it was time for everyone to kick back and reflect on a succesful year. Plans for 2013 are gathering momentum, watch this space!