Amateur cyclists from all over the country are scrambling to sign up and join one of the county’s top GAA stars to ‘Race The Rás’ and help raise money for GOAL and the Irish Cancer Society.
Former Leitrim captain, Declan Darcy will join other sporting greats such as Sean Og Ó hÁilpín; Galway’s Ollie Canning, former Dublin midfielder Ciarán Whelan and Waterford’s Dan Shanahan to cycle at least one of the grueling stages of the An Post Rás tour of Ireland, from Sunday, May 22, to Sunday, May 29.
Darcy, along with former Roscommon All-Star Paul Earley, and ‘Race The Ras’ organiser Eamon O Muircheartaigh, will attempt to complete the entire eight-day tour.
In total, more than 50 GAA luminaries will team up with members of the public for this innovative sporting fundraiser to try and raise in excess of €200,000 for the two charities.
The participants will set off each morning three hours before the official stage start, ensuring that they stay well ahead of the professionals, and after biking for an average distance of 156km, will enjoy their own race to the finishing line in towns such as Portumna, Kilrush, Castleisland, Castletownbere, Blarney, Tramore and Kildare, with the final stage and race finale in Skerries.
The GAA’s association with the Rás is nothing new andGAA President Christy Cooney has agreed to set the ‘Race The Rás’ riders off on their first stage at 8 am on May 22, in Dunboyne.
Other GAA stars who have confirmed their participation include Kerry’s Dara Ó Cinnéide, ex-Kilkenny star DJ Carey, Cork great Brian Corcoran, while ex-Irish rugby international Mick Galwey has also thrown his hat in the ring.
Ó Muircheartaigh, who first dreamed up the idea of ‘Race The Rás’ late last year, admits that he never expected it to take off in such a way.
“I really wanted to do something for GOAL and cancer research and being a novice cyclist and knowing a lot of the GAA players through my job and my father Micheál, it seemed like a good idea,” said O Muircheartaigh.
“I’m not sure if the guys really realise what they have let themselves in for, but they will find out very quickly once they start training in earnest!”
Members of the public can sign up for a stage, or if they are feeling ambitious enough, the entire tour, by contacting the organisers and raising enough money to cover the entry fee.
Speaking about the initiative, Irish Cancer Society Chief Executive, John McCormack said “We are overwhelmed by this fundraising endeavour and the level of organisation and enthusiasm that has gone into it.”
If you would like to take part in Race The Rás, and raise money for GOAL and The Irish Cancer Society, please log on to www.racetheras.com.