Conor Murphy stormed home with the first medal of the games for Team Ireland at the European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) in Maribor yesterday, on a day of high winds and rain that interrupted the sports schedule across the board. The Clogher rider finished second in the Boy’s Time Trial, securing silver.
Stamping his name in the history books for Irish cycling Conor Murphy became the first male to win a cycling medal for Team Ireland at the EYOF. Competing in the Boy’s Time Trial the 16-year-old finished second in the 10km race in a time of 12:55.38, with only the Dutch rider, Gijs Schoonvelde, going faster. Conditions on the day were incredibly tough, with high winds and heavy rain stalling competition throughout the morning. The time trial course was based at the Aerodrom Maribor P.O., which, closed for the day for the event, provided an epic backdrop of airplanes and helicopters.
Afterward, the surprised and proud Cuchulainn CC rider spoke about his race, “It feels amazing, I can’t really believe it to be honest. The course was pan-flat and a case of just going as hard as you could. I really wasn’t expecting it, I was hoping top 25-ish, and I just came over the line and I couldn’t believe what the man on the mic was saying.”
With 1 minute separating racers at the start, Murphy powered down the course, making ground on the riders in front of him, “I realised I was catching the guy in front, I was marking points on the course, so when I came around, I could see the time closing down, 50, 40 (seconds) and I was getting really close at the end and I was really happy. I was just thinking, just get it done now, the legs were burning, just try and finish as strong as I could.”
Coached by international racer Bryan McCrystal, Murphy normally competes on the mountain bike, and came into the event not knowing what to expect.
“Byran’s been great to me giving me advice for the Time Trial, I can’t thank him enough has really helped me, he even lent me his bike for the race. I think everyone will be pretty proud in Louth now. I’m in disbelief now but I think I will believe it when I get it in my hands and see it hanging on the wall at home. It’s a nice way to start the week, we will just give it a go on the mountain bike tomorrow.”
The only other cyclist to have won a medal for Team Ireland at the EYOF is Lara Gillespie, who won a silver medal in the Girl’s Time Trial in Gyor 2017.
David Gaffney and Philip O’Connor were also competing in the same race, finishing 18th and 43rd respectively. The Girl’s Time Trial saw Killarney’s Kate Murphy finish in 27th position, ahead of Greta Lawless in 40th place.
Top finisher in the Girl’s Time Trial Kate Murphy, from Sliabh Luachra CC was one of the first riders to compete after the race was delayed, adapting her pre-race preparation well, “I was happy enough with it, it was really wet. When the race got delayed I had to warm up twice, and I was just ready for it when it came, and I just went for it, so am happy enough.”
Dubliner Greta Lawless normally focuses on the mountain bike, and was one of the first riders to start this morning, with the rain coming in as she was competing, “It was a good start, I kept it under control for the first half and then it started lashing with rain, I could see the storm coming! The second half I picked it up again, but just as I was finishing the storm came in.”
Dungarvan’s David Gaffney was also happy with his performance, with his main focus event being the Road Race later in the week, “I felt good going around, it was a fairly flat course, you had to be cautious going around the corners, you didn’t want to fall! I was happy with the outcome and am ready for the Road Race on Thursday.”
Gort racer, Philip O’Connor was also pleased with his performance and will form part of the three-rider Road Racing team next Thursday. “I started fairly hard and tried to settle into a rhythm, there wasn’t too much of a wind so I’m happy enough.”
Conor Murphy and Greta Lawless are back in action today competing in the mountain bike race from 9am.