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King Kelly Visits Mullingar

posted 26 Mar 2013, 15:00 by Kevin Monaghan
(By Mark Monaghan)   
People have often told me that you should never meet your heroes, as sometimes they don’t live up to your expectations, that certainly was the case when I met one of mine when I was young boy when a certain icon of the time left me standing and wouldn’t sign an autograph for me, but that saying couldn’t have been further from the truth when I eventually got to meet one of my all time heroes, Sean Kelly, on Friday night last (March 22nd) in the Greville Arms Hotel. I can still remember as young boy riding my bicycle to and from school on the back roads around The Downs pretending to be King Kelly riding as hard as I could and sprinting to a signpost and waving my hands in the air to adulating crowds of cattle in the near fields, okay sometimes I still do that!

Many people across the world cycling community would count Kelly as one of the best all time cyclists that there has ever been and to be able to hear his account of how his career in the worlds toughest sport blossomed first hand really was a pleasure. Proceedings for the night got underway at half eight with people taking their seats in anticipation of hearing this great mans story, while being treated to the delightful finger food provided by the diligent staff of the Greville Arms. Club President Michael Reynolds kicked off the night by thanking the large crowd for coming and also dealt with the usual safety procedures etc. before handing over to our very own Ryan Tubridy for the night Shay O’Toole. Shay gave us all a quick run down on Sean’s cycling history and then introduced the man himself to the crowd as he was lead to his seat by four of our junior riders, David Boyne, Ross Kiernan, Conor Canton & Eoin Lynch to raptures applause from the two hundred strong crowd.  
The format for the night was to have a fantastic presentation, produced  by Shay & Kevin Monaghan, with various different pictures and video clips from some Sean’s greatest victories with Shay using these clips to prompt his questions to the main man. 

To say Sean was a little surprised to hear that he had a hand in the creation of Lakeside Wheelers would be an understatement, as Shay explained to him how his win in the junior Tour of Ireland in Mullingar 1975 prompted a number of people to set up Mullingar Cycling Club which in turn became Lakeside Wheelers, and I gathered that he was a little humbled by that revelation. As we settled into our seats for the rest of the evening we were treated to the insight of what it was like for a young man from Carrick-on- Suir growing up to become one of the all-time greatest sporting men to come out of our fair country. Sean told us how he took to cycling to help him get away from the day to day running of his family farm which he left school early to work on as his father had become ill and soon after he joined his first club and began to race where he found he had a real talent and knack for it and indeed winning his first ever race. As we were all taken on the journey through the highs and lows of his career from winning his many races including the Classic wins in Paris Roubaix, Lombardy and Milan San Remo (Sean even showed us his commentary prowess by commentating on his famous decent on the infamous Poggio in the Milan San Remo in 1992 where he came from behind to win the race when all seemed to be lost) we were treated to some excellent tales and stories of what it took to win all these races right through to riding in the grand tours (Tour de France, Giro Italia & Tour of Spain which he won in 1988) his eventual retirement and to setting up the Sean Kelly An Post team, the time seemed to just fly by.

When all the talking had finished this is where Sean really came into his own as he stood for pictures and autographs and spoke to everybody who wanted to speak with him, never once did he decline anybody. 

Thank you very much to the management and staff of The Greville Arms Hotel for looking after us all so well on Friday night and the excellent support you have given us in recent times.  I think it is only right that I also take this opportunity to thank the people that made the evening a huge success, Kevin Monaghan who put the excellent slide show presentation together, Carmel Dolan, Muirna Walsh, Ronan McNamara, Mark Monaghan, Mick Reynolds, Charlie Sheridan & Karl Moran who helped out on the night and the weeks leading up to the event. Kevin Matthews for helping out with the sound and lighting, to all the companies that donated spot prizes on the night (I won’t name ye as I am sure to forget somebody sorry, but ye know who ye are) and finally to Joe Duffy and Shay O’Toole. Joe has put a huge amount of work into this event over the past months and has been trying for years to get Sean to come to Mullingar and as soon as he got word he quickly set about organising the event in his usual energetic style that we are all now accustomed to.   Shay, I hope you gave Sean your number on Friday night to pass it on to his Eurosport bosses as I’m sure that if a position became available you would slot in there with aplomb. Well done on Friday, you were an excellent M.C and thanks also for all the work you put in over the last couple of months. Take a bow one and all.