Kanturk, or Ceann Tuirc, as it is known in our native tongue, played host once again to a festival of cycling racing over this year’s May Bank Holiday weekend. Ceann Tuirc translated means ‘the head of the boar’ and Iverk Produce Carrick Wheelers were truly at the head of affairs over these three days of exciting racing.
The first of many successful results for the Carrick-on-Suir club came from Carrickbeg’s Michael O’Loughlin, who was victorious in the U16 event’s opening stage. In this all important opening stage, Michael broke clear as part of six-man group containing many of the pre-race favourites and as the race progressed, it was clear the first yellow jersey of the event would come from among them.
Coming into to finishing straight O’Loughlin launched his sprint with 250m to go and was successful in claiming a brilliant victory with a short length to spare on second place.
Michael’s success continued on the Stage 2 Time Trial as he completely dominated the opposition, posting an amazing time of 11 minutes even for the 8km test.
The young Iverk Produce Carrick Wheelers rider then went on the successfully defend his yellow jersey on the final stage, claiming one of the biggest U16 prizes on offer on the Irish cycling calendar.
Next to impress, was Junior (U18) talent Sean Hahessy. Sean has enjoyed some impressive form of late, with highlights such as last month’s hometown victory and a call up to The National Junior Development Squad giving him the confidence to set his sights high, even though he was participating in the senior event!
Having finished in the front group on the opening stage, Hahessy sprung to the fore of standings with his impressive Stage 2 Time Trial, as the 16 year-old almost pulled off a shock victory, posting a time just 3 seconds shy of the winning time.
Nonetheless, the Iverk Produce Carrick Wheelers rider was delighted with his performance, which now placed him second overall on General Classification (GC), poised to strike for the coveted yellow jersey. Stage 3 showed little movement on GC and even though a small group did successfully break away to take the spoils, their gap of just two seconds did little to change the overall standings, with both Hahessy and the yellow jersey finishing to the fore of the main field.
As the near 100 strong peleton took to the start on Monday’s final stage, most of whom could be heard thanking the gods that the weather forecasters had got it wrong, there was a great sense in the air that the race leader could be toppled, with Carrick’s Hahessy among the favourite to do so. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out for club’s latest talent to hit the headlines, as Dungarvan’s Mark Flavin successfully made it into the winning move, gaining a gap of 30 seconds on the peleton at the finish line, to claim the overall victory, with Hahessy, finishing a bittersweet 4th overall.
Lastly, in the U14 event Portlaw’s Aaron Kearney was also to the front as he finished in the top 5 in two of the three stages of the event, to claim an inspiring 5th place overall for the Iverk Produce Carrick Wheelers man. Aaron has shown great improvement this year and with the famous Carrick club’s ability to ‘churn them out’, one wouldn’t bet against this young man going from strength to strength in the coming years.
In other events around the country Carrick Wheelers also tasted victory in one of the biggest cycling events in the country, as Ryan Sherlock won the final stage of the Tour of Ulster. This victory in the 3-Day event was a remarkable result, given the field contained a number of British professional teams as well as Ireland’s top riders. Though Sherlock is not native to the Carrick-on-Suir area, he rides many events with the formidable club and will compete as part of the Iverk Produce Tipperary Team in the upcoming An Post Rás Professional Cycling Race later this month.
Also, in Wexford, Carrick Wheelers rider Kyle Crotty took his first ever victory as he won the U16 Frank O’Rourke Memorial at the weekend.
Finally, on a sadder note, the Irish Cycling world was lamenting the loss of another Irish cycling legend, as Meath’s Seamus Kennedy sadly passed away after a long illness. Seamus, a former winner of the Rás Tailteann, was well-known in cycling circles throughout Ireland and especially in these parts through a friendship that spanned the decades with the late Bobby Power whose one-year anniversary occurred on Sunday, May 13. One must only think that they are happily conversing about old times up there now!