The March winners in the Aqua Blue Sport Cycling Ireland Monthly Awards are Mary Concannon (Volunteer of the Month for March), Conor Hennebry (Male Rider of the Month for March) and Katharine Smyth (Female Rider of the Month for March). The winners were nominated by Cycling Ireland members, with a selection panel using the nominations and rationale to decide on the final winners.
In 2018 Cycling Ireland introduced new monthly awards to recognise the achievements and commitment of Irish cyclists. The winners in the three new categories, female cyclist of the month, male cyclist of the month and volunteer of the month, will form the shortlist for the Annual Awards next November.
The March Volunteer of the Month Award is Mary Concannon (Killorglin CC). Concannon, along with her crew, put a tremendous amount of work into ensuring the smooth running of the Kerry Group Rás Mumhan which took place over the Easter weekend at the end of March.
Concannon was quick to point out that she is accepting the award on behalf of a large team of volunteers who dedicate hours of work into making the race one of the most prestigious ones on the Irish cycling calendar.
“There are so many people involved in the race,” the treasurer of Killorglin Cycling Club highlighted, “I feel bad with so many others involved, from the race officials, to the marshals and everyone who has played a part in making the race possible. I’m accepting the award on behalf of them.”
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The Female Rider of the Month for March is Katharine Smyth (Ballymena CC). The Ballymena Cycling Club racer has had a phenomenal start to the racing season, winning the Des Hanlon in an impressive manner.
“I had only one race before the Des Hanlon, so I wasn’t sure where my form was before the race,” Smyth explained. “I was shocked at how well I went, I didn’t think it would split until a lot later in the race, so it was a long time to be out by myself!”
The Des Hanlon was the opening round of the Cycling Ireland National Road Series and is one of the toughest road races each year. Smyth attacked early in the race, enjoying a significant lead throughout the race.
“I was two-and-a-half-minutes ahead at one stage, but then it came back to a minute and a half, so I had to go again! I was seeing stars for the last 10km, there was no let up. But I love that, the harder the course the better.”
Considering the rest of the season the Ballymena rider who is currently leading the Cycling Ireland National Road Series (NRS) rankings said “My big goal is to get a top three in the NRS, it should be achievable. I’d also like a podium in the National Championships. I have two young kids – nine and eleven, so I’m not sure yet about Rás na mBan in September.”
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The winner of the Male Rider of the Month for March is Conor Hennebry (Team Viner Caremark Pactimo). The 25-year-old stormed to overall victory in the Kerry Group Rás Mumhan earlier this month following a strong performance in the opening stage on March 30th which saw him finish 3rd in the stage.
Undeterred after losing almost a minute and a half in the second stage, the Tipperary man battled back to win stage three which put him in the yellow jersey which he held until the end of the race.
“I felt good going into the weekend, and got up the road on the first day,” said Hennebry, speaking about his performance at the Kerry Group Rás Mumhan. “I thought it was all over after stage two, but I came back into yellow on stage three and held it, thanks to my teammates.”
Hennebry is the third winner of Male Rider of the Month this year and was pleased to receive the award – “It’s great to win the monthly award for March, it’s a bit of a surprise, but great to get acknowledged for my Rás Mumhan performance. Hopefully, I can build on this for the next while and have a good Rás.”
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The nominations for the April awards will be open in the next couple of days, so keep an eye out for the link where all Cycling Ireland members can nominate the person they believe deserve the April win in each category.
FEMALE RIDER OF THE MONTH FOR MARCH Katharine Smyth
MALE RIDER OF THE MONTH FOR MARCH: Conor Hennebry
VOLUNTEER OF THE MONTH FOR MARCH: Mary Concannon
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