By Brendan Boylan,
Shortly before Christmas 2011, I took a call from local Garda Cathal Walsh, the purpose of which was to invite me to the first dinner dance of Inspiration Cycling Club in Dunboyne. Although aware of the club’s existence, initially yours truly, was, though honoured and humbled to receive the invite, a tad reluctant. Solely out of a fear of not knowing anybody at the function.
He wasn’t taking ‘no’ for an answer though. And when the carrot was dangled that the guest speakers on the night were Sean Boylan, Stephen Roche and Jimmy Magee, he got his desired result. It was a good job he did too, for, not only did yours truly end up knowing far more there than was thought would be the case, a great night was had all round.
The occasion was touched with poignancy too though. A few years ago, Dunboyne, Meath and Ireland lost one of its brightest sporting stars, renowned cyclist and former GAA player Paul Healion. ‘Danners’ as he known locally, had already enjoyed remarkable success when his career was tragically cut short.
His achievements had an inspirational effect on others too. Maybe on nobody more than his nephew Aaron Buggle who is also an established and accomplished cyclist himself, both on the track and road racing. On the day Paul was laid to rest however, the decision was made to establish a cycling club in his native Dunboyne. There could hardly be a more fitting name for the new group – Inspiration Cycling Club.
As for the dinner dance, my fears were quickly allayed. As ever in such a situation, over the coming paragraphs I will only mention the names of those known to me personally, for fear of getting something wrong or leaving somebody out. Every member of the club is congratulated on their achievements to date. So too are those who who prove the essential backing without which no club could prosper.
Foremost among them Cathal Walsh, who’s been the driving force behind the club since its establishment. Others, like local businessmen Sean Henry and Martin Donnelly as well as people like Philip Cassidy, Tosh Lavery – and his son Philip – Martin Heaphy and Ray Mitchell (and many more) have made invaluable contributions to the club.
The connection between the various different sporting codes has always intrigued me. The overlap between GAA and things like horse racing, soccer, rugby and basketball has been long documented. Well, in Dunboyne at least, cycling can be added to that list as well.
On the presentation night, it was great to see such a great overlap with the GAA in particular, as the likes of Ray Mitchell, Leo Reilly and Paul Gannon who’ve evidently made great strides on the bike. Not to forget Darren and Chris Ennis, Sean Leonard, Sean Norman and Ryan Fitzpatrick. As this wordsmith becomes more acquainted with the cycling scene, many more names will appear on these pages, rest assured.
Anyway, the undoubted highlight of the night was the presentation of the Paul Healion Jersey to the Cyclist of the Year – the inaugural winner of which was Patryk Goszczyk. It was also on that night that I heard of the Cycle4Life event in aid of Temple Street Hospital. Now, it’s a measure of how popular cycling has become in the Dunboyne area that it was selected to stage the start of the An Post Ras.
The start of the Ras was with us again this year but this time perhaps it was even more especial. Not only due to the charity event in conjunction with the occasion but also due to Aaron Buggle’s presence in the field. And, in what – to the best of my knowledge was his first attempt at the event – our local hero did everybody proud with an outstanding display – winning best county rider twice – and would surely have made an even greater impact had he not lost considerable time due to a damaged gear cable. It was still an outstanding effort and one he seems sure to build on.
Mention was given earlier to the fact that Aaron is equally adept at track cycling (pursuit). He is primarily based in France – surely the cycling capital of the world. He has a great career carved out for himself already and he should be immensely proud of what he’s achieved to date. Everybody is extremely proud of him.
In the months and years ahead I look forward to furthering my cycling knowledge and, more so, observing and reporting on Aaron’s achievements and those of the young people he and his late, great uncle inspired to take up the sport. Its 25 years this year since Stephen Roche won the Tour De France, methinks that long wait mightn’t take too long to end. Who knows, the next Irish winner of Le Tour might even be from very close to home!