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Documentary On 'The Earthquake Moment In Irish Cycling' Airs This Week

Documentary On 'The Earthquake Moment In Irish Cycling' Airs This Week
By Paul Moore Updated

The 1972 Summer Olympics are sadly best remembered for the Munich Massacre and the kidnapping and killing of a cohort of the Israeli Olympics team. However a defining moment in Irish cycling also took place in Munich, when a group of riders gatecrashed the Olympic Games in Munich. The story of that famous ride is told in a new radio documentary which premieres this weekend.

Green and Gold tells the story of how Irish sport and politics collided on the biggest stage and an Olympic dream that lives on to this day.

The feature is produced by David Coughlan (Deputy sports editor at the Irish Daily Star) and Donal O'Herlihy (former Deputy Editor of RTE's Investigations Unit) and it documents "the earthquake moment in Irish cycling when a bitter civil war came to the surface on sport’s biggest stage."

On the 7th of September 1972, an Irishman took the lead in the Olympic cycling road race in Munich. Only he wasn’t supposed to be there.

In 1972, Irish cycling was a snapshot of the country at the time.

The sport was divided and there was open hostility between the rival factions running cycling on the island. On one side: the two internationally-recognised bodies north and south of the border. And on the other side: the National Cycling Association (NCA), a group led by prominent Republicans, who believed in a 32-county organisation alone.

Since 1947 the NCA had been barred from international competition and the group had protested at the 1955 World Championships and the 1956 Olympics. By 1972 they were prepared to take action again - with a secret plan to protest at the Olympic Games in Munich.

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What happened next made headlines around the world and changed the course of Irish cycling forever. Protests, pile-ups, arrests, and a political storm - all played out against the bloody backdrop of the Troubles at home and a tragic siege at the Games.

In terms of the contributors, the list is impressive with the likes of; Shay O’Hanlon, John Mangan, Pat Healy, Mary Peters, Kieron McQuaid, Hennie Kuiper, Neil Teggart and Matthew Teggart all featuring.

Green and Gold airs on RTÉ Radio 1 on Saturday at 1pm, and is repeated on Sunday at 7pm. The documentary is also available to download as a podcast from today.

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