The creation of a cross-border road racing championship between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland will strengthen the sport and improve community relations, it is hoped.

Kells and Armoy have joined forces to launch Ireland's first cross-border championship. The title battle will comment on July 17 and 18 at Kells and then move to Armoy on August 6 and 7.

While the town of Kells is famous for the Book of Kells and the Cross of Kells, to race fans it is well known for the annual road races. Armoy is where it all began with the "Armoy Armada"; Joey Dunlop, Mervyn Robinson and Frank Kennedy.

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Both clubs have worked hard to attract the best racers to each event and at round one Cameron Donald, Keith Amor, Ryan Farquhar, Adrian Archibald, Michael Dunlop, John Walsh, Michael Pearson, Damien Mulleady, Paul Robinson and more are expected to ride.

The Southern Launch of the cross-border championship took place at Farmleigh, hosted by Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey TD and attended by Meath TDs Thomas Byrne, Johnny Brady and Damien English. Offocials from both the Kells and Armoy clubs, local councillors and executives from Kells Town Council and Moyle District Council and officials from MCUI U/C and MCUI S/C also attended.

Minister Dempsey said:

"I wish the initiative every success. The racing Championship and sporting events will further develop a strong, sustainable and genuine cross-border and cross-community partnership between the people of Counties Meath and Antrim. I would like to congratulate Aileen Ferguson and her colleagues for all the great work they put in to making the event such a triumph every year."

Northern Ireland Minister for Sport Nelson McCausland sent his good wishes and added:

"Road racing is part of the cultural fabric of Northern Ireland and the launch of this championship brings an exciting new concept for motorsport fans here in Northern Ireland and our neighbours in the Irish Republic. Through the Armoy/Kells collaboration, both clubs have benefited from increased promotion of their events. I with the organisers every success in making the championship a major fixture in our local sporting calendar and hope the riders enjoy both events and return safely to the finish line."

This new championship has attracted the backing of the title sponsors of each event, Adelaide Insurance and Coleraine Skip Hire and Recycling.

Sam Geddis, Director of Adelaide Insurance Services in Belfast, said:

"Motorcycling is a sport that genuinely has no boundaries throughout Ireland and we're delighted to increase Adelaide Insurance Services' involvement in yet another cross border initiative."

Coleraine Skip Hire managing director Packie Laverty added:

"We were very pleased to fund last year's inaugural and historic Armoy Road Race. Living in the locality getting involved in this year's Race of Legends meant a lot to me personally and I'm delighted to further the partnership with the Armoy Club by backing this new venture."

The continued financial backing means riders in the 401-750cc, 600cc and Open races stand to make extra prize money overall.

Points will be awarded from first to 12th places and the combined points total from Kells and Armoy will generate an overall winner, who will be presented with a unique Cross-Border Championship Trophy and a cash bonus of ?700.

Armoy Clerk of the Course, and newly elected Mayor of Ballymoney, Bill Kennedy said:

"The Armoy Club is delighted to team up with Kells to help promote a quality line-up of riders at both events, creating a more exciting event for both competitors and spectators alike. Fans will have to wait until August 7 to see who our first ever winner on the podium and I anticipate a very interesting and challenging championship."