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By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent/Evening Herald/Sunday Independent
On current showing, it has to be said that the Carrick Cidona Club in Co. Tipperary will be a force to reckoned with this season.
Certainly they have sent out clear signals that they aim to consolidate their position in Irish cycling with two excellent wins to date and the new season barely a week old.
It was Martin O'Loughlin the school teacher who returned to competitive cycling after a number of years on the administration side of the fence who was to the fore again yesterday in the Cycleways Cup held in Navan Co. Meath. Martin was re-emphasising his talent and that his appetite for the game has not diminished by making it two wins in a row.
Originally the organisers, the Navan Road club had pencilled in a 30km course, which included the Hill of Tara (renowned in Irish Folklore), but at the twelfth hour they had to hastily find another course because of horse power, not four wheels but four legs in the area. "Yes it was at the last minute we became aware of a sporting event involving horses and huntspeople, but thankfully we came up with an alternative course which in my opinion suited everybody," said Larry Clarke of the promoting club.
In all 120 went to the start line for the Cup over six laps of a 15km course, which went via Bective Garloo Cross and Kilcairn. It was a process of elimination with O'Loughlin was last week's winner of the Lacey Cup, Eddie O'Donoghue, and Philip Cassidy going clear on the penultimate lap. Unfortunately for Cassidy it was a no win situation as he was soon to find out to his peril. He was the sponsor of the event along with his colleague Brian Connaughton. Ironically it fell to the two teammates to deprive Cassidy of the spoils but it was never a possibility that his lone challenge would succeed against two very fit athletes who evidently have put in the training miles during the winter. With constant manoeuvring of tactics it was only a matter of time before O'Loughlin went ahead to register a well-deserved success by a margin of 15 seconds ahead of O'Loughlin with Cassidy in third place.
1 M O'Loughlin (Carrick Cidona CC) 2 E O'Donoghue (Carrick Cidona CC) 3 P Cassidy (Cycleways) 4 S Baker (Irish Road Club) 5 A Donlon (Dublin Wheelers) 6 B Stewart (Northern CC)