Sunday 18 March 2018

Enda saddles up and rides out with legend

Conor Kane

THE late Charles Haughey famously tried to steal Stephen Roche's thunder when he won the Tour de France.

But yesterday our current Taoiseach was happy to share the limelight with another cycling legend, Sean Kelly.

Enda Kenny was in Dungarvan in full cycling regalia (blue shirt and all) to lead out thousands of participants in this year's Sean Kelly Tour and, seeing as how he managed to get through the morning without falling off his bike, causing a crash or running over any innocent cats, the event could only be deemed a success.

So successful in fact -- with up to 8,000 cyclists taking part over the weekend -- the Taoiseach has decided that cycling will be a metaphor for the country's route to recovery and the former world number one its figurehead.

"I've absolute admiration for Sean Kelly and what he did. The characteristics he displayed of self-belief, of conviction, of courage and of real dedication are what we need as a country as well," he said.

In fact, if you didn't know better, you'd almost think he was pushing the former world number one cyclist into a different race altogether.

"He's a role model not only for an individual but for us as a country and if the Irish people put their minds to it, there is nothing that we can't achieve."

Napoleon always preferred lucky generals and so far in his reign, Enda Kenny has been deemed a lucky Taoiseach (or as lucky as any Taoiseach who inherits this mess can be), and yesterday he even brought the weather with him as the sunny southeast lived up to its name.

Also lucky was the fact that, when a wheel came off before the start of the 50km cycle, it was from Sean Kelly's bike and not that of the Taoiseach. Handlers must have dreaded "wheels coming off for Kenny"-style photos.

The Sean Kelly Tour is supported by Waterford County Council and the Waterford Sports Partnership.

Yesterday's event was joined by Olympic silver medallist and double world cross-country champion John Treacy, who is now the chairman of the Irish Sports Council.

The runner, the cyclist and the Taoiseach linked arms while the sun glistened across Dungarvan Bay and the masses headed off on their routes of varying difficulty, but no sooner had the Taoiseach left to complete the third 50km circuit than the black clouds started to gather overhead and a few portentous raindrops could be felt.

Back to normal then.

Irish Independent

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