Ray O’Shaughnessy of Cuchulainn CC claimed this year’s victory, denying Galway’s Derek Joyce in the third annual Ras Connemara and Gerry Clancy Memorial Cup.
Based in Oughterard, the two day event was raced over three stages, including the 95km stage one route which O'Shaughnessy claimed ahead of Galway Bay CC’s Mike Ryder.
Although Ryder crossed the top of the second climb first, taking three points, with O'Shaughnessy in second place, the result was reversed for the KOH at Maam. The pair were able to hold off the peleton until the final few kilometres when a group of four, including two Galway Bay riders, Ruaidhri Geraghty and Liam Frawley, Markievicz Cup winner, Eoin Whelan of Seven Springs CC, and Gerry McCabe of Cuchulainn CC, managed to come within five seconds. However O'Shaughnessy took the final sprint with Mike Ryder half a bike length behind.
However day two saw Galway’s Derek Joyce take the yellow jersey with a 12 second gap over O’Shaughnessy. Joyce boldly broke from the group to take the final KOH and then opened up a 30 second gap, taking the final prime and stage honours. Castlebar’s Peter Tuohy gained 29 seconds on the chasers to finish second, while Blarney’s Aiden Gallery finished third. Ray O’Shaughnessy finished at the back of this group, while Mike Ryder finished 52 seconds behind O’Shaughnessy.
O’Shaughnessy, however, went on to claim the KOH in the short 50km stage three, winning the overall KOH trophy, and he was one of five, including Liam Frawley, Galway Bay CC, who made an early break. Although Joyce attempted to close the gap, O’Shaughnessy and fourth placed rider Whelan jumped away on the final lap. Whelan took the stage victory, while O’ Shaughnessy took second place, but crucially the gap between O’Shaughnessy and Joyce was 26 seconds, more than enough for O’Shaughnessy to deny the Galway cyclist.
While O’Shaughnessy was the most aggressive and consistent rider of the weekend, making every break and featuring in almost all KOH and primes, Joyce and Galway Bay CC will wonder how they lost the race with so many riders in the bunch, four of whom finished inside the top 10.
There was no competition for the team prize, which was taken by Galway Bay, with Derek Joyce second, Ruaidhri Geraghty third, and Mike Ryder sixth, finishing well ahead of the next team.