By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent
Irish clubs that are mapping out their programs for the next fortnight and are looking for some silverware from the upcoming FBD Insurance Ras must be pleased with the racing over the May Bank Holiday weekend in the Tour of Ulster. The likes of Brian Kenneally ( MyHome.ieCycleways.com), Ray Clarke (WorldwideCycles), Ciarán Power (Navigators Insurance), Greg Swinard (Usher Irish Road Club) and Martin O'Loughlin (Dan Morrissey/Carrick Wheelers CC) all showed tremendous improvement, none more so than the American based Power.
Power has been out of action for the last six months, but came back to win the king of the mountains prize in Ulster and placed highly in the general classification. The Navigators Insurance man must be happy with his latest surgery in France for an injury that has plagued him for a number of years. Power will now line up at the FBD Insurance Ras with the Tipperary team, which has had a habit of winning the county title in the Ras in years past.
Tipperary team manager Paul Lonergan wasn't looking that far ahead though. "First things first," he told us. "I have an event on Sunday to get out of the way. It is the Tommy Sheehan Memorial and on the back of last weekend's result, I have a feeling that the lads will be up to it. Ciarán is participating. The course is a testing one! It is a fifteen mile circuit and it has a climb that will sort them particularly after five ascents and I would not be surprised if he'll be in the mix on Sunday.
"The fact that he has declared for Tipperary in the Ras is a bonus and I'm sure the opposition must be creaking in their boots. This guy has won the event in 1998 and 2002 and if continues the four cycle, it'll be his turn again.
"He'll be in opposition to his colleague in the Navigator's squad, David O'Loughlin, who will lead the Grant Thornton Irish team in the Ras which looks very formidable,"
The Tommy Sheehan Memorial in Carrick-on-Suir, raced over 100 kilometres, will be a real test as to what Ciarán's campaign is going to be for the rest of the year. Irrespective of the opposition in the Co. Tipperary town, Ciarán will be rated as one of the favourites.