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Irish racing review

Howard and Ryan serve up the competition

By Tommy Campbell

The last fortnight has seen back-to-back weeks of competition between neighbouring cycling clubs in Co Louth and Co. Meath.

Last week hosted Balbriggan, two very competitive days of racing. Pity that efforts of the local cycling fraternity were not rewarded with better weather; it was the spoilsport, but the competition was superb with Paul Healion successful in the Harry Reynolds and on Sunday last it was the turn of Niall Delahaye when he won the Ben McKenna Trophy. Possibly, Niall could have won both events, if it wasn't for a strange twist of fate: he turned up on Saturday and indicated his willingness to participate, but just before the race started he withdrew because he had left his racing gear at home.

This Saturday and Sunday it is the turn of Stamullen to go to post. A former mountain biker-turned roadie, Delahaye has certainly come to the notice of the selectors for his style of racing, which, since the start of the season, has yielded good results - particularly last Sunday, when he was out front for over 30 miles in conditions not suitable for solo attempts. This Sunday, he could be in line for another success in the Joey Whyte Cup, which is over 72 miles.

The Bill Hyland Memorial is the mainstay of the competition in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary also on Sunday. Holding the reins here will be John Ryan. "As you know, this town has a long tradition with cycling. The club was very instrumental in attracting the best cyclists from at home and abroad as far back as the '60s. I can guarantee top class racing this Sunday and everybody is being catered for," he said. Defending champion is Timmy Barry from the Dan Morrissey/Carrick Wheelers CC. Barry can rely on support from his team, but if the race pans out in favour of another of the Morrisseys, then he will toe the party line.

Last week's winner of the Silver Pail Trophy, Michael Hennessy, will be keen to add another win prior to the upcoming Credit Union Ras Mumhan, which takes place in the Killorglin over the Easter weekend, where members of the Sean Kelly team will debut in Ireland. The team has been comparatively quiet since their launch in late January and Tim Cassidy's crash last weekend in Belgium is not doing their prospects any good.

However, it was better news for Martin Munroe last weekend when he went to Aigle in Switzerland to further his career on the bike. The week previous in the Atlantic Coast/Sheeffrey Grand Prix, he had to bear the humiliation of losing the event because he took his eye off the line before he crossed it and Derek Burke literally stole the race from underneath him.

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