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Tralee, March 2, 2003
Slattery in emphatic win
By Tommy Campbell
Matt Slattery from the Killarney Cycling Club sent out a strong message yesterday afternoon when he scored an emphatic victory in the Lacey Cup held with a start and finish in Tralee. He edged out Canadian Brian Truman with Kieron McMahon of the promoting club Earl of Desmond Tralee Bicycle Club in third place.
The event contested by 80 cyclists was handicapped thus enabling everybody participating to have a sporting chance. Sean McElroy of Carrick Cidona made the most impact on his six minute advantage on the scratch group and despite scaling the last climb of the day at Sliabh Mish Mountain 6kms from the finish, his effort to make it all the way ended in the final kilometres. This is not the first occasion that the Veteran McElroy has got within shouting distance of winning the event. In past years he has come close and admitted to race organiser Matt Lacey, "maybe by the time I'm 60," said Sean.
This edition promised to be one to remember, given the stories of preparation that had been going around the grape-vine. Pat McDonnells Paint Sales had added improved sponsorship to the race, and to mark the event Denis O'Shea, proprietor of the Big Little Bike Shop, Killarney had donated a pair of Mavic Cosmos wheels for an intermediate sprints competition. Over 90 riders competed in veteran, junior, S1, S2, S3 categories. The weather was perfect for a cycle race, sunny, a light shower of rain and a moderate westerly wind. Veteran and S3 riders were let off first. Three minutes later, the juniors and S2 seniors started their chase, and finally after another three minutes the S1 scratch group took up the challenge, as it turned out, of catching a highly motivated and very strong Seán McElroy.
McElroy was hell bent on making his mark on this race, as he has done in the past. By the first intermediate sprint, he was alone and forged a 45 second lead. The other vets and S3 riders were caught by S2 and junior group by Annascaul (22 miles from the start) and by about half way through the race the S1 riders began to catch the main bunch. With hard racing, the race continually split and reformed, with Seán McElroy still alone and maintaining a 30 second lead on the nearest chasers. The Earl of Desmond riders, (Seán Lacey, Kieran McMahon, Paul Griffin) were prominent in the chasing activity while S3 Earl of Desmond riders (Tony Daly, Seamus Hoare and Killian Deenihan) were well to the fore with just 12 miles to go.
At the front, Seán McElroy took the second intermediate sprint alone and earned himself the Cosmos wheels, a most deserving winner to the rider who has earned a reputation for lighting up this race in recent years. With 10 miles to go a distinct chasing group formed just 25 seconds behind McElroy. These riders, Timmy Barry (cidona) Kieran McMahon (earl of desmond), Matt Slattery (killarney), Micheál Concannon (killorglin credit union) and Brian Truman (Leeside) put in a concerted effort. They could see McElroy ahead at the top of the last climb (and last intermediate sprint) as he started his decent into Tralee. It would have been a fantastic finish to have one Veteran dominate the prizes as well as the race, but he was caught with just 2 kilometres to go at the end of a hair raising descent on the part of the chasers that left all support traffic behind.
A sprint finish decided the top placings after a highly enjoyable race. Matt Slattery (Killarney) pipped the others just on the line in a time of 1hour and 56 minutes. Brian Truman took second, Kieran McMahon (earl of desmond) was third, Tim Barry fourth, Micheal Concannon was fifth and McElroy was sixth, all same time.
Junior riders came in with the various chasing groups, the winner Theo Hardwick (Killorglin) was also 16th overall.
1 Matt Slattery (Killarney) 2 Brian Truman (Canada) 3 Kieran McMahon (Earl of Desmond) 4 Tim Barry (Cidona) 5 Micheal Concannon (Killorglin Credit Union) 6 Sean McElroy (Cidona) Senior 2 1 Peter O'Connor (Killarney) 2 Daniel Lynch (Kanturk) 4 Tony Devane (Killorglin) Senior 3 1 Willie Curtin (Kanturk Credit Union) 2 P.J. O'Halloran (Safari Newmarket) 3 Seán Owens (Cidona) Juniors 1 Theo Hardwicke (Killorglin Credit Union) 2 Barry Woods (killorglin Credit Union) 3 Brendan Lacey (Earl of Desmond) Veterans 1 Kevin O'Leary (Triton) 2 Michael Griffin (Fermoy) 3 Jerry Rea (Leeside)