Page last updated at 07:21 GMT, Monday, 13 July 2009 08:21 UK

Tributes paid to NI motorcyclist

Andrew Neill
Andrew Neill who died at a racing event at the Walderstown course

Tributes have been paid to Tyrone motorcyclist Andrew Neill, who was killed in County Westmeath on Sunday.

Mr Neill, 27, died when his motorcycle hit a tree during practice for a race in Athlone. Another man was injured.

His wife Sharon said he "loved and lived for road racing" and she argues that the sport should not be banned.

She added: "It would certainly not be Andrew's wish, nor mine, that the sport he loved and got so much enjoyment from be stopped because of his death."

Mrs Neill said road racing "was his life and as a couple it was all we ever knew".

"He knew and understood the risks, as do all road racers, as did I. He raced with my total support."

Mr Neill was a team mate of local rider, Mark Young, from Cookstown, who died at the North West 200 in May.

The North West clerk of the course Mervyn White said this was "another serious blow for motorcycling".

"Andrew was one of the up and coming road racers in our country," he said.

"He had great talent and he had great prospects for the future.

"He has competed at our event here at the North West 200 for a number of years. This year, eighth place was his best result at the event itself in the 250 class."

Mr Neill, from Newmills in County Tyrone, was a well-known rider on the Irish road racing scene and competed in his first Isle of Man TT in June.

He finished fourth in the 250cc class at this year's Billown TT event on the island, having also taken a fourth place at the Castletown circuit the previous year.

He won the 250cc race at the Bush Road Races staged by the Dungannon club in County Tyrone last month.

He was a regular on the Irish road racing scene and also competed at the North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix.

He previously rode at the Manx Grand Prix but graduated to the TT Mountain Course this year, taking 19th in the Supersport A race and 16th in the Supersport B event.

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