Saturday 24 February 2018

Stamullen host feast of cycling

It really was a brilliant weekend in every way for Stamullen Road Club as they hosted two major days of cycle races at Balscadden and Stamullen, attracting over 500 cyclists and their entourage from all over the country.

At Balscadden on Saturday the second running of the John Reilly Memorial races were held. Racing got underway at 10.30 with the Under-12, 14 and 16 races. At the end of the short race for the Under 12s, it was Quillan Donnelly from the Bikesworx team who claimed victory and this is a young rider who has been to the fore in all of his races so far this season.

In the Under 14 race, it was the current All-Ireland champion, Adam Gilsenan from Bohermeen CC who powered his way to a classic win. Sean Nolan from Navan Road club recorded his second win up the steep finishing climb to claim the U-16 title, having won here as an Under 14 rider two years ago.

At 11:45 a massive field of 93 riders lined up for the Senior Race for the John Reilly Memorial Cup, and this year the club were very proud to announce a new sponsor for this race, Grimme International Ireland.

The race was held on a handicap basis over 50km with the A4 riders getting a two minute start on the A3 riders, with the Senior A1-A2 starting a further minute behind.

Right from the drop of the flag, this race was contested at an extremely fast speed, blink and you would miss the show. There were six laps to be covered and at the end of lap three, all groups had amalgamated and with all eyes on the pot of gold at the end of the race, no one was allowed to escape up the road.

However, entering Balscadden to the sound of the bell, signifying the start of the final lap, seven riders did slip the field and it was through great team-work by the powerful UCD riders, Cian O'Reilly distanced himself from the group and went solo, holding on right to the finish with a very slender lead over his rivals. Last year's winner, Matteo Cigala from the Aqua Blue team, made a brave bid to reclaim the cup, finishing in second place. Javan Nulty, now riding with North Down CC came home in third place and popular Swords man, Eoin Morton from the UCD squad filled fourth place.

At the presentation in Balscadden Community Hall, club Chairman, Gay Howard thanked the new sponsor for coming on board and he also included the Reilly family who put on a wonderful spread of great food and goodies for all present and a special mention for all of the race stewards and all involved in making the race, once again, a truly wonderful success.

On Sunday it was a lock, stock and barrel shift down the road to Stamullen for the annual Stamullen Grand Prix races. This year the sign-on was at the magnificent St. Patrick's GAA Sports Complex.

As the massive field of riders assembled at the sports grounds in preparation for their race departure, the clubs' Safety Officer, Robert Moore called for a minute's silence for the late Marie McKenna from Stamullen, whose funeral took place just one hour prior to the Stamullen GP races. As a mark of respect to the McKenna family, the riders did not race through the village on the first lap and racing officially started approximately 300 metres past the village.

The first race of the day to finish was the Under-12 and here it was Quillan Donnelly from Bikeworx, who won again, completing a weekend double, having won at Balscadden the previous day. It was a repeat for the winner of the U-14 race too, when Adam Gilsenan from Bohermeen CC claimed another fine win.

The U-16 winner was Keith Mulroy from Covey Wheelers in Westport, Co. Mayo who ensured the long journey paid dividends.

The first senior race to finish was the Senior A4 race for the SafeLink Shield and these riders raced over three laps of a very tough circuit. At the end of the race, almost 100 riders came into the finishing straight together, blasted their way up through the village to the finish line, where there was tremendous joy and excitement with Stamullen Road Club rider, Sean Landers taking victory by inches from Brian Malone from Park Wheelers CC. Miham Sebastain from the Scott Orwell CC finished in third place.

This was Landers first win in an open competition and the plan for this young man to try to win this particular race had been hatched three month's ago between himself and club boss, Gay Howard.

In another sport, they would say 'gamble landed'. It was a great boost for the club to see one of their own riders sprinting home to a marvellous victory.

In the Senior A3 Junior race, over four laps of the circuit, Zeno Young from the Powerhouse Sports team in Belfast retained the Jimmy Gough Memorial Cup, having won the same cup in last year's event. This is the first time ever that a Junior rider has come back the second year in a row to win this cup.

The first Senior A3 rider home was Paul Forristal from the Orwell CC in Dundrum and he was presented with the Pat Howard Cup.

The Senior A1-A2 race, held over a total distance of 130.8km attracted most of the countries top riders and what a race it was! In the large group of riders, there were many attempts to form breaks off the front of the race but each attempt failed and all riders were hauled back into the fold.

With the severe climb up Snowtown on each lap, legs began to get tired and suffered. It was here that a strong 9-man break did manage to go clear. These riders stayed out front to Stamullen, where they were then joined by four more riders. This now 13-man group worked very well together.

As the riders got the bell going out on the final lap, a group of three managed to extract themselves off the front, Sean Lacey from Aqua Blue, Philip Lavery (Dublin) and Chris McGlinchey from the Chain Reaction team in Belfast. These riders now had a 35 second lead over the chasing group of five riders, with a further half minute gap to the next group on the road. As the three riders approached Gormanston on the final lap, and with just 3km to go, their lead was quickly diminishing and at the 1km mark, their lead was now down to a mere 10 seconds which they miraculously held on to until the finish. In the final sprint to the line, it was 22-year old McGlinchey who proved the strongest in a powerfully fast sprint, with Lavery finishing second and Sean Lacey, third. Then, Eoin Morton from the UCD team led in the chasing group for fourth place. Another local man in this same group was Cian Delaney who finished in eleventh place, just outside of the prizes.

In the Senior A2 race for the Patrick Kennedy Memorial Cup, Shane Baker from the Irish Road Club tookk the win to wrap up a great weekend of top class cycle racing.

Most sporting clubs will readily admit that their sport depends greatly on the generosity of sponsors and Stamullen Road Club is no different. They sincerely want to acknowledge the financial assistance given annually by their regular sponsors as well as some new companies who have come on board. Acknowledgement and thanks go to Austin Walsh from Quay Cycles in Drogheda, Brendan & Liz Whyte, Grimme International Ireland, Peleus Steel (Duleek), Tommy Dowd Oil, Drogheda Credit Union, Mattie Andrews (Andrews International Transport), Flo Gas, Drogheda, Leinster Cycling, Dee's Barbers (Stamullen), Stamullen Business man, John Hughes (SafeLink) and an acknowledgement for those who asked not to be named.

There is a host of people to thank, suffice to say, we are most thankful to everybody who came out to help make the weekend a great success. It could not be done without each and every one of you.

He reserved a special word of thanks for the McKenna family for their kindness towards the club, especially in their time of deep sadness on the death of their Mother, Marie. The McKenna family conveyed their wishes that the Stamullen GP races should go ahead in the Village as planned, and for this the club is extremely thankful.

Drogheda Independent

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