Drogheda and Stamullen riders in rich vein of form
DUE to a phenomenal increase in the number of new cycling clubs, Cycling Ireland were forced to open the 2012 racing season two weeks earlier than normal, such was the demand for new races to be added to the calendar of events.
Each of the local clubs had their individual highlights of the year that they can all feel proud of.
Drogheda Wheelers cyclist Ciaran Campbell made a good start to the season with a top-six placing at the Cyleways Cup and later in the month claimed first Junior (U-18) at the Newbridge GP. New recruit Paddy Delaney had a top six in the Traders Cup A4 race in Dundalk.
In April the club promoted their annual Ras na N'og/Peter Bidwell Memorial and Coombes Connor weekend. Conor Campbell, Paddy Delaney and Ciaran Campbell all took placings at their home races, while Ciaran was also selected as a member on the Irish Junior team for the Gorey 3-day race.
In May another new rider in the club, Lenny Mc Manus, made his racing debut and Conor Campbell took 2nd A3 in the Frank O'Rourke race in Wexford.
It was in June when Ciaran Campbell took his first adult win in the Combined A3/Junior race at the Donamon GP in Castlecoote, in County Roscommon.
Moving on to July, it was Ciaran again to the fore when he won the gold medal in the Junior category in the Leinster Championships. He also competed for Leinster in the Junior Tour of Ireland, ending the month by taking the junior prize at the Brendan Campbell Memorial on home roads in Donore, a race which is in memory of his granddad.
Then in August, Conor and Ciaran both took placings at the Beechmount Cup and in the Collins Christle Memorial at Kilmessan, and both finished off their season at the National Championships at Blackrock where Conor placed 14th in the A3 championship and Ciaran seventh in the Junior Championship.
Stamullen M Donnelly Road Club had a remarkably good year both on and off the road. Colin Robinson, who had spent almost all of the previous year out of the sport through injury from crashes, returned and took two very impressive wins in the Senior A1 category.
David Wherity was elevated to Senior A1 status following his consistently high placings, and then topped off a great season by winning the Meath Senior Championship.
David Dargle clinched the Senior A4 race in Stamullen in front of a huge home crowd and other members who recorded wins throughout the season were Craig Sweetman, Luke Coll, Emmett Gorman and Sean O'Connell.
However, one of the truly great highlights of the year was the announcement that Drogheda company Fastshipping Ltd - of which former club member Simon Mulvany is a director - stepped on board as a joint sponsor of the club. Having discussed this plan with longstanding club sponsor Martin Donnelly, Martin declared that he would be extremely happy to share sponsorship and looked forward to this joint venture.
A complete new set of club colours was designed and a launch night was held in Whytes, Stamullen, with all of the new gear on display. This was a great social night attended by past and present club members along with club sponsors, supporters, race stewards and almost everyone who helps with the running of the club.
For club chairman Gay Howard 2012 marked a milestone in his lifetime, when he completed his 50th year in a row in his duties as a cyclist, team manager and Neutral Service Provider with the 8Day International Ras. He says that despite the fact that he is getting on in years, he still remains as passionate as ever about his commitment to the sport that he loves.
Another local man who had a truly great year was Junior rider and DID Dunboyne member Danny Bruton from Naul who back in April won the Senior 3 category race in Stamullen and received the Pat Howard Memorial Cup. Following this great win, Danny was immediately drafted onto the Irish Junior panel, where he wore the Irish jersey with great distinction throughout the season.
One could not wrap up the season without giving mention to Ryan Mullen, whose parents hail from outside Duleek and who raced with Navan Road Club in his younger years before leaving Ireland for Wales. Ryan is currently climbing the ladder of success at a rapid pace. His silver medal at the European Junior Time Trial championship brought great joy to the locality and he began to attract attention from the professional ranks.
Ryan has since signed a professional contract with UK-based IG Sigma Sport and is definitely one to watch out for in 2013.