Tipperary GAA Stars Gearing Up For ‘Race The Rás’

Amateur cyclists from all over County Tipperary and beyond are this week scrambling to sign up and join some of the county’s top GAA stars to ‘Race The Rás’ and help raise money for GOAL and the Irish Cancer Society.

Declan Browne and Brian Lacey 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 gruelling stages of the An Post Rás tour of Ireland, from Sunday, May 22nd to Sunday, May 29th.

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, with the association’s former Secretary General, Padraig O’Keeffe, given the honour of starting the second ever Rás in 1954. In recognition of this, GAA President Christy Cooney has agreed to set the ‘Race The Rás’ riders off on their first stage at 8 a.m. on May 22nd 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.

A small number of riders will attempt to complete the entire tour, including former Dublin and Leitrim footballer, Declan Darcy, Roscommon great Paul Earley, and well-known physiotherapist and star of TG4’s ‘The Underdogs’, Eamon Ó Muircheartaigh, who first dreamed up the idea of ‘Race The Rás’ late last year. He 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,” he says.

“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.

GOAL CEO John O’Shea said he was particularly enthused by the idea, adding: “As the sports enthusiasts’ charity, GOAL has been associated with some of the country’s most memorable and successful sporting fundraisers over the past 34 years, and, given the passion and goodwill already being extended towards this event, it promises to be one of the highlights of the summer. On behalf of GOAL, I would like to thank the participants, the organisers and all those involved. I know that their efforts, and the support of the public, will be deeply appreciated by the vulnerable of the developing world.”

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. On behalf of everyone at the Society, we would like to extend our gratitude to all those individuals and organisations involved, whether they are cycling or supporting the cause in another way. Your help will mean a lot to the people with cancer and their families who rely on us throughout Ireland.”

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

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