By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent
Thankfully, the clubs in Cycling Ireland continue to fuel the enthusiasm of the competitors by staging good class events at this time of the year. This weekend is no different. The province of Leinster is the last provincial council to stage its road championships that roll out of the starting blocks on Saturday.
The village of Naraghmore in Co. Kildare play hosts, and the local cycling club in Kilcullen, which is sponsored by Murphy Surveyors, are the promoters. Liam Walker and his trusted band of helpers have everything in place, "the club use this 11-mile circuit and it's testy. Good roads and the odd climb give a fair indicator as to the fitness of the individual," said Walker.
He may live and study in Listowel, but the very fact that he represents Cycleways.Com, allows him participate in the champs. Of course we are writing about Eugene Moriarty who has to start as the race favourite for the senior title and in the junior ranks, Urban Monks of the Bray Wheelers, who has come on in leaps and bounds since the M. Donnelly Junior Tour, has to be installed as the favourite.
Competition gets under way at 11 am with four laps for the big guys and the junior, veterans and ladies doing one lap less of the 11 mile course.
Just up the road on Sunday in the town of Carlow, the 'Wheelers' are organising the National Time Trial Championship with Dan Morrissey who back the Carrick Wheelers CC as sponsors.
Ray McKenna is in charge here and he is brimming with confidence. "All the favourites of the time trialling discipline are heading to town," he said. "The holder, David McCann from the Giant Asia team, is a definite starter and after last Sunday's win in the Atlantic Coast Hotel/Sheeffrey Grand Prix, he has to be the favourite. Also expected to ruffle David's feathers will be Tommy Evans of the Planet X outfit.
"Both David and Tommy head off to the UK for the Tour of Britain immediately after the event. Evidently both are keen to start the week on a bright note.
"The race HQ is the IT College in Carlow and the course over 40ks is on the Carlow/Kilkenny Road with the 'turn' at Paulstown. The surface and the conditions on that road are excellent, so I am anticipating a good time and also a good turnout for a club who prides itself on putting the cyclist first," concluded McKenna.
Whilst David McCann may the individual favourite, the team prize is an unknown quantity. The emergence in the last number of weeks by Murphy Surveyors Kilcullen CC, certainly has them ranked to lift a major title. This would be a real bonus for their sponsor who got involved with the club at the beginning of the season. Also it could be a fairytale for the Steed brothers, Michael and Kieran to land a national team title and maybe just an individual silver or bronze medal.
Racing gets under way in Carlow at 11.30 on Sunday, entries will be taken at the sign on, but the organisers would much prefer to have the start sheet done and dusted on Saturday evening.