By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent
There'll be quality on view this Easter weekend in the Bertoni Gorey Three Day, based in and around the Co. Wexford town, and the Credit Union Ras Mumhan Four Day in Killorglin, Co. Kerry. Over the years, these two particular events have been an indicator for those wishing to gauge their fitness for the likes of the FBD Insurance Ras and events abroad.
Certainly both organisers, Sean O'Callaghan and Sam Darcy, have been diligently working in the background for the last number of months.
Those with aspirations of the bigger picture will certainly be in Killorglin for the four day, five stage event. This starts on Good Friday, which is unusual because of the liturgies that take place that day. On Easter Monday it winds up with a mild 58 miler, but last year it turned the general classification on its head because of the inactivity of Paul Griffin and Eugene Moriarty, who had controlled the race, but inexplicably they took their attention off the overall and allowed John Dempsey to squeeze them out of the title. And to add insult to injury both were from Kerry.
Both Dempsey and Moriarty will be on the start line with another 121 competitors. Generally it would be anticipated that the home contingent will keep the visitors at bay, but not so on this occasion. Holland, Germany and Belgian teams may provide stiff opposition for the locals.
Both continental teams that were launched in Dublin earlier this year will be out in force. The Sean Kelly Team will be here along with Paidi O'Brien. He is a member of that outfit, and will be eager to show that he is a worthy candidate for the Irish team in the upcoming Ras, irrespective of the way the selectors are leaning with their nominees.
MyHome.ie/Cycleways.com launched their team during the week, albeit later than usual, but it was significant that it was a good move. Aidan Crowley a spokesman for the team, said, "There were some minor technicalities to be sorted out, but we are on the road for Munster and it has been known in other sports (horseracing) when colours are changed, they tend to bring good luck. We'll pin our hopes on Eugene Moriarty to do well and maybe, I'll win the final stage."
Bertoni are the new sponsors of the Gorey Three Day which gets under way on the traditional Easter Saturday. The new sponsors have been given a cead milte failte with the number of participants. A record 198 go to the line in Brittas, Co. Dublin for the official start. Last years winner, Derek Cunningham is a notable absentee, but it is like attempting to find a needle in a haystack, as nominating a winner. The big surprise is a Norwegian team are on the start list and they are not here for sightseeing.