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Joey Dunlop Tribute from the TT Website

Extract Fom Sky Sports News

The death of Isle of Man TT legend Joey Dunlop is a national tragedy for Northern Ireland. Along with Mary Peters and George Best, Dunlop was one of the country's true sporting greats. Cathryn Curran reports.

Joey Dunlop’s tragic death on Sunday during a road race meeting in Tallinn, Estonia will stir silence across Northern Ireland. In that part of the world, which has witnessed so much trouble over the past 25-years, Joey Dunlop is a national hero, not only for motorbike supporters but also throughout the whole community.

At a civic reception in his hometown of Ballymoney earlier this month, to mark Joey’s success in claiming a 26th win at the Isle of Man TT, Sports Minister for Northern Ireland, Michael McGimpsey said: “There can hardly be anyone in Northern Ireland who has not heard of Joey Dunlop. Seldom can a sportsman draw so much support from right across the community, and this sense of togetherness can only help Northern Ireland as we seek a brighter future for everyone.”

In Ballymoney, a small town where visitors are greeted like lost friends, there will be a feeling of great sadness. In the words of an 85-year-old man; just one of many hundreds of people who lined the streets to give Joey a welcome during his visit earlier in the month: “What can you say about him – he’s just great. The best thing you can say about Ballymoney.”

Coming from this sleepy little town, which is an hour’s drive from Belfast, it may be a wonder how Joey came to dominate the world of TT. But, if you understand the geography of Northern Ireland, you’ll know that Ballymoney neighbours Portrush, where the North West 200 takes place. To many people in Northern Ireland Joey Dunlop is the North West 200.

At this year’s North West 200 Joey did not win, but his appearance certainly drew in the crowds. But it is his success in the Isle of Man that guaranteed his fame. If 1976 saw his debut in the Island, the following year became even more memorable for it marked his first win in an obscure race called the Jubilee TT.

The event was fitted in at the last minute when the promoter realised there was a blank space owing to a major shuffle in the races. It appeared to be a wide open event filled with a line-up of unknown riders, and even after Dunlop cleared the line first, few who saw him on that occasion could have imagined he would still be winning 19 years later. Yet, year after year, record after record has gone Joey’s way in the Island. He became as much part of the island as the Manx cat and its banks.

It was his love of travelling that encouraged Joey to take part in the race in Estonia. For the past few years Joey competed less at home so that he could see other parts of the world. But, it is not only through racing that Joey travelled across the sea. His work for charity was endless and is one of the reasons he was awarded an OBE to add to his MBE. In trips to Bosnia, Albania and Romania, Joey worked for children, persuading people at home to give food and clothes. Setting off in his van he would personally deliver these goods.

Away from the hustle and bustle of racing Joey Dunlop was a devoted family man. Even whilst competing abroad he kept close contact with his wife Linda and five children. His brother Robert was always nearby, as he too is an accomplished motorcyclist.

At 48-years old, this shock death of a man, familiarly known as the 'King of the Roads', who injected so much vitality and enjoyment in to the lives’ of the Northern Ireland people will be felt right across its community.

All of us at TT Website wish to extend our sincerest and deepest sympathy to the family of William Joseph, The Legend who's accomplishments will live forever.

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