By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent
Former cyclists have a distinct habit of going that little further when it comes to organising a bike race. Take for instance, Justin Coonan in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford. He is organising the Kelly Pharmacy Grand Prix on Sunday. As a bike rider, Justin would have reason to remember the trials and tribulations of racing and of course the suffering when the going gets tough and the tough get going!
"You could not put on any old bike race this weekend with the FBD Insurance Ras only days away. Along with Ger Wyley my co-organiser, we have a nice little circuit [notice the word ‘little'] which will test the aspirants to their level of fitness," Coonan said. When the riders will make three ascents of Colgans Climb, they'll be well aware that this is a serious test for any bike rider!
"Yes! There is a drop into the Nire Valley which is a haven for the walking fraternity and then it is on to the picturesque village of Millstreet and then they'll have another two laps of the course with the start and finish at Ballymacmague Crossroads, where the road bifurcates to Cappoquinn and Clonmel. Also at the location is a memorial to Master McGrath, the greyhound which triumphed in the Waterloo Cup for coursing which is distinct from racing on a track. He won the Cup in 1868 1869 and 1871.
"Our sponsor, Joe Kelly was a participant in the "Millennium Ras" which had a joint sponsorship of the National Dairy Council and FBD. He has a love of the sport and basically sees the opportunity of putting something back and of course he hopes to get some mileage as regards PR," said Coonan.
The defending champion is Denis Lynch who was triumphant in the colours of VC la Pomme. He is back in Ireland after a couple of years in France where it was anticipated that he would further his career in the bike game.
Events in Munster have had great support this year and it should be no different this Sunday. Sharing the limelight also Sunday with the Kelly Pharmacy event is the Noel Hammond Memorial in Ballyboughal, Co. Dublin. They have a series of races on the programme where it is anticipated they will have a good turnout. The event is organised by Dundrum Shopping Centre/Orwell Wheelers CC.
Last Sunday, the Dan Morrissey/Carrick Wheelers Road Club outfit were crying wolf because they had so many of their numbers away on various duties. In the end they cried all the way to the Bank or the local Credit Union with their winnings!
Martin O'Loughlin and his cohorts from the club simply showed why they are so disciplined when it comes to tactics. O'Loughlin won the Tommy Sheehan and to rub salt into the wound! They had four in the top six. This Sunday they'll be back to full strength plus which should make it interesting. There is talk that Brian Kenneally will make his seasonal debut. He has been training, specifically for the ‘Ras,' so obviously he'll want to have a go.
The Co. Waterford race will have Kilrush as its base where things get under way at on Sunday, May 15 at 12 o'clock.