Tandragee 100 tinged with sadness after fatal crash

Dan Kneen leads Shaun Anderson and Michael Sweeney on his way to victory in the Tandragee 100 feature race
Dan Kneen leads Shaun Anderson and Michael Sweeney on his way to victory in the Tandragee 100 feature race

The tragic death of Irish competitor Noel Murphy at the Around-A-Pound Tandragee 100 on Saturday plunged the popular national road race into darkness on another sad day for the sport in Northern Ireland.

Mr Murphy, who was 36 and from Lusk in North County Dublin, died following a crash in the second race of the day in the Junior Support event on the Cooley Hill road section of the 5.3-mile circuit.

He had arrived at the event on a high after winning the Junior Support B race at the Cookstown 100 the previous weekend.

Mr Murphy’s death occurred six years after another Lusk man, top road racer Martin Finnegan, lost his life at the event.

The organising North Armagh Club took the decision to continue with the race programme at the request of Mr Murphy’s father.

KMR Kawasaki team boss Ryan Farquhar, who claimed his 200th Irish national road racing win in the Classic race on Roger Winfield’s Paton, told the News Letter: “Noel Murphy’s death put a dampener on the whole event and it’s a bad job. Whenever something like that happens you feel sorry for the lad’s family and the organisers as well, because they’ve put a lot of work into the event.

“It’s part of racing unfortunately; we’ve seen it many times in the past and we’ll see it again - it’s a downside to the sport.

“Noel’s father didn’t want the racing stopped and everyone has different ways of looking at it - the club had a hard decision to make.”

Isle of Man rider Dan Kneen clinched a Superbike double as he maintained his excellent form from the Cookstown 100.

Kneen was also making his bow at Tandragee and served notice of his prospects with a victory in the first Superbike race on Friday evening, which was brought forward due to the threat of rain in Saturday’s forecast.

The Braddan man took the win on Friday from Derek McGee and Jamie Hamilton with the result declared based on positions at the end of lap two due a red-flag incident involving Yorkshire’s Jamie Coward, whose condition was later confirmed as non life-threatening.

Kneen repeated the feat on Saturday in the three-lap feature Superbike race, which was held following a delay of around two-and-a-half hours in the wake of Noel Murphy’s fatal accident.

He sealed victory by 2.8 seconds from Shaun Anderson (CN Suzuki) with Davy Morgan finishing third ahead of Michael Sweeney.

A number of riders decided not to compete in the final races.

William Dunlop won a pulsating Supersport race - the first event on the programme - to earn his maiden success in the Tyco Suzuki livery following a battle with Scotsman Amor,

Dunlop came through from third place to pass Derek McGee before making his move on Amor on the penultimate lap and went on to win by 0.186s seconds with McGee third.

Connor Behan (KMR Kawasaki) was next while Jamie Hamilton and Seamus Elliott completed the first six.

Behan won the Supertwin race, held in damp conditions, by ten seconds from Stephen McKnight, while Michael Sweeney took a win in the concurrently-run 250GP class.