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25 Years of Cycling the GOAL Cup


September 5, 2022 • 3 min read

For the past 25 years, Seamus McGowan and local cycling clubs have been awarding the GOAL Cup to the winner of the annual 4k time-trial hill-climb on Moreagh Hill, County Leitrim.

This year, the GOAL Cup will be held on the September 7th, as the final cycling event of the Sligo Summer League. To mark the 25th anniversary of the GOAL Cup, a commemorative GOAL trophy will be awarded to the first-placed male and female riders.

“Back in ’97, we had a piggy bank full of 10p’s and 2p’s that came to around £75. I went into town and bought a nice silver cup, got it engraved and that was the start of it all. Every sporting event at the time had a charity aspect to it – the first port of call was always GOAL. There’s always been that great connection between sport and GOAL,” says Seamus McGowan.

GOAL Cup founder, Seamus McGowen (right), presenting the GOAL Cup to 2021 Winner, Mel McShane.

Olympic origins

Since the inaugural event in 1997, the Goal Cup has been a breeding ground for top level cyclists.

“As it happened the first winner was a local lad, only 17 years old at the time, a chap called Mark Scanlon, who went on to be an Olympian. So, his name is actually the first name engraved on the cup, and the very next year, 1998, he went on and became a World Champion cyclist.”

Matthew Devins, a Sligo native who was the 2019 winner, has also gone on to race professionally. A bright future lies ahead of him at Trinity Racing.

While competitive, the event is always held in good spirit. The 2014 event stands out in Seamus’s mind for a rather usual occurrence “Two riders, Ted McCaffrey and Ronan McNamara, were given exactly the same time. They agreed to share the cup and held it for six months each!”

2019 GOAL Cup Winner, Matthew Devins (middle).

The future looks bright

The event has grown year on year since it started in 1997, and the future looks bright.

“For the past two years, the event has been part of the Sligo Summer League. By incorporating it into the league for points it has given the event a higher profile. The event has become part of local cycling – all cyclists would know about the GOAL Cup and want to win it.”

As with so many successful sporting and fundraising events, the support of the local community in organising and running the GOAL Cup is key. Cyclists from competing clubs volunteer as timekeepers and marshals, ensuring a high-quality race for all participants.

Supporting life-changing work

The Sligo Summer League takes place from April to September each year, with several local clubs hosting different races throughout the summer. The GOAL Cup marks the closing event of the season and proceeds from the race go directly towards GOAL’s life-changing and life-saving work in 15 countries around the world.

It is hoped that some past winners will make a guest appearance in 2022 to mark its Silver Anniversary. With Olympians and professional cyclists’ names adorning the trophy, the GOAL Cup can look forward to another 25 years of success.

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