CYCLING HITS ALL TIME LOW AT AWARDS

According to the Bumper Edition of the RTE Guide for Christmas and the New Year (Sunday December 30th @ 6.30pm) 50 years of Irish Sports Stars – A celebration of five decades of Irish sporting excellence, including interviews with national heroes such as Niall Quinn, Brian O’Driscoll and Padraig Harrington- That should have sent shockwaves through the system as far as cycling was concerned with certainly respect to those listed courtesy of the ‘Guide.’

On Sunday evening the nation was treated to what looked like an interesting programme about 50 years of the Texaco Awards! Relaxing in the armchair and looking forward to the awards personnel to whom they felt were worthy of recognition. Packaging 50 years into an hour long programme was no mean feat as far as I was concerned and like minded people would be expected to have similar vibes about sport in this country.

It was a brave country in the late fifties that was paying due respect to sport and having a gala evening for the recipients.

In those early years it was the highlight of the sporting year and still is by a long shot. Only Independent Newspapers have similarly followed the trail.

In those early days it was bread and butter matters that were the staple diet. Thankfully those days have long gone and Ireland is now a vibrant country.

There has not been a decade that cycling was not in the frame, but that went horribly wrong on Monday when only a fleeting moment of Sean Kelly accepting a hall of Fame Award did cycling figure in the proceedings.

Let’s face it, Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche, Martin Early, Paul Kimmage were always on the menu when it came to cycling.

Those were the days when the Irish nation had an interest due to the quintet. They were the stable diet for a country that was plodding along and victories on two wheels livened up our lives.

Thank God those days are behind thanks to the Celtic Tiger, but the late 70’s the 80’s and the early 90’s were the halcyon days and let us not forget out two wheel heroes. They deserved more time on the national airwaves, not ‘Oh! We nearly forgot the Kelly and Roche who will live in the annals of Irish sport.

For the record, cycling has been honoured in the Texaco Awards by the judging panel of the Sports Editors of the National Press.

Gene Mangan was the first recipient in 1958; Frank O’Sullivan, 1959; Shay O’Hanlon 1960/61; Shay Elliott 1962; Paddy Flanagan 1964; Peter Doyle 1968; Sean Kelly 1980/81/82/83/84/85/86/88/89/90; Stephen Roche 1987; Conor Henry 1992; Mark Scanlon 1998.

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