Ok.....I hadn't had this problem in the past, so it would not be appropriate for me to suggest you any solution.
However, if the delay causes you pain, just remove eth0 from startup.
Once you boot into RH9 give the command
This will display a list of options for you to configure
Select 'Services' from the list by pressing spacebar to select the option.
Locate 'eth0' in the services and if it is marked with an asterisk(*), place your cursor between the two brackets [ ] and press spacebar once. this will remove eth0 from startup. Press Ok and then 'quit' to come out of the program.
Next time when you boot your system, you can manually activate eth0 from
System Tools - > Network Device Control
You can edit the eth0 settings frm the above mentioned tool. If you use a static IP Address, fill in the information about IP Address, Subnet Mask, DNS Server and Gateway....
However, if thats not the case, I guess you'll need help from someone else.
Hope, you find this info useful.