By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent
Last week's FBD Insurance Ras certainly lifted the bar when it came to organisation. Thankfully, the majority of the officials who were involved for eight days last week will be back in harness this weekend for the major Irish races.
The consensus is that the majority of the participants in the Ras will be shoring up with rest and light training, despite the third round of the Classic League in Banbridge on Sunday. Tommy Evans looks a likely favourite for the Noel Taggart, but in the wings is Roger Aiken, who since a stint in the Sean Kelly Academy in Belgium has been making great waves in the bunch, and with that stage victory in the FBD into Emyvale, he could be the one in the frame on Sunday evening.
In Philadelphia, USA, both Ciaran Power and David O'Loughlin will be lining out for the Navigators also on Sunday. In fact, a number of competitors who were in the FBD Insurance Ras are in the States now. Whereas the Recycling.Co.Uk team was all the rage in Ireland because of its supremacy, things have not been as rosy in Philadelphia. On Tuesday, along with Dean Downing crashing and sustaining injuries which could sideline him for a while, Paul Manning, who played a pivotal role as a playmaker in the Ras, failed to finish the Lancaster GP, mainly because of jet lag.
Whilst the Senior A's had their week in the Ras, those down the pecking order will be converging for the Dunboyne Three-Day which gets under way on Saturday. Four stages (three road and a time trial) have been listed as part of the action for the Whit weekend.
In the driving seat as per usual are Alice Sherratt and her team of helpers who'll be dispensing with the cobwebs before they move on to their biggie of the year, the M Donnelly Junior Tour next month. The Dunboyne event has more or less been a nursery for cyclists who are destined to cycle on the bigger stage. Of late, one of its most successful participants was Philip Deignan, who is carving out a successful career with AG2R-Prevoyance.
One of those who has aspirations of a career on the bike after his education, is Martin Munroe from the Western Lakes club, which is based in Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo. Since making his debut as a schoolboy, Martin, now a second year junior, has progressed steadily under the tutelage of Padraig Marrey, as have a lot of other cyclists in the Connacht area. All going well Martin could be a mover and shaker this bank holiday weekend.