DCSIMG

Northern Ireland can host the top sporting events

Maglia Rosa stage two winner Michael Matthews arrives to sign on in the Shambles Market area on before the beginning of the race.

Maglia Rosa stage two winner Michael Matthews arrives to sign on in the Shambles Market area on before the beginning of the race.

  • by Jim Stokes
 

Boy, does Northern Ireland know how to throw a party? Does it what! It is always part time here.

What’s more it cost absolutely nothing.

When you think that Leeds are charging anything from £45 to £85 for the team presentation before the official start of the Tour de France at the start of July. Then you see that the Belfast City Council opened their little Demesne in the centre of town for that wonderful Giro d’Italia experience for nothing.

Up to 4,000 milled around to make such a noise that even the Italian organisers and the Tifosi (Italian cycling fans) were simply swept off their feet and could not believe the humour, the friendliness and the general reception no matter where they went.

For three days the Grande Partenza blazed a trail from Belfast to Portrush, Armagh to Forkhill and it has certainly put the country in the pink. And that despite the inclement weather from those wonderful helicopter shots where even through the mist, Northern Ireland shone brightly.

It is going to be worth the £4.3m investment, just you wait and see.

So what’s next? Some in the high echelons ‘Up on the Hill’ believe that the Giro d’Italia was just a little taster for the big one - ‘Le Tour’. The Tour de France is bigger, maybe not in passion, but certainly in financial terms.

Then you had Stage 2 up the north coast and not a hotel bed to be had, not a restaurant table to be booked and thousands of volunteers to make it happen. So what about The Open at Royal Portrush then? Another little conversation piece up at Stormont. And when Windsor Park and Casement Park are finally revamped along with the spanking new Ravenhill Stadium, watch this space!

So the stakes will have to be raised, but the way the Giro d’Italia was firstly initiated, then carried out, that should not be a problem to those movers and shakers that actually run and put on those big events in Northern Ireland.

Bring it on!

 

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