Over 90 people, including the likes of Ronan O’Gara, David Wallace, Marcus Horan and Keith Earls, have signed up to take part in various stages of the Munster Rugby Fundraising Cycle that kicks off at 10am this Sunday from Musgrave Park.
Paul Darbyshire, Munster’s head of strength & conditioning for the past four years, was diagnosed last September with motor neurone disease. Paul has continued to carry out his duties with the squad with a characteristic courage and humour that has been an inspiration to all.
The notion of the Fundraising Cycle was first mooted by Ricky Sergent who is coach of the soccer team that Paul’s son Jack plays with in Warrington and Sergent will be joined by former Munster winger Brian Carney and a group from Warrington for the trip.
A native of Wigan in the north of England, Paul played almost all his professional rugby league career with Warrington Wolves. Paul is married to Lyndsay and has four children – Ella (13), Georgia (11), Jack aged 7 and baby Harry, who was born last October.
Funds raised in the course of the Cycle will go to the Darbyshire family and to fund research into motor neurone disease being carried out in Trinity College Dublin by Professor of Neurology Orla Hardiman.
Ronan O’Gara and some of his Munster team-mates, David Wallace, Billy Holland, Denis Fogarty and Tomas O’Leary, will lead off the first stage alongside Ricky and a five-strong group from Paul’s home town of Warrington for the 61-mile trek that is expected to arrive at Thomond Park around 4pm on Sunday evening.
Later that night Dolans is the venue for a ‘Night of Music’ that will feature Barry Murphy’s Hermitage Green who will be joined by May Kay (Fight Like Apes), Mike Hanrahan (Stockton’s Wing), Eoin Coughlan, Acoustra, Celtic Whisper and D’Unbelievables Jon Kenny and Pat Shortt.
On Monday it is on to Roscrea Rugby Club, a leg that will include Munster Academy players and senior squad members Keith Earls, Marcus Horan and Wian du Preez, with the final Irish leg starting from Portlaoise (Midway Hotel) and ending in Maynooth (Glenroyal Hotel).
That is before the final push to Trinity College where the group is expected to arrive around 6pm. They will greeted by Shane Jennings, Malcolm O’Kelly, Eoin Reddan, John Fogarty, Rob Kearney and their colleagues from the Leinster squad.
All support is welcome along the way and at stage ends.
Please note It is not too late to show your support and join the cycle at any of the stages. Interested cyclists can opt to take part in single stages or multiple stages of the event.
Cyclists wishing to take part should register by contacting Claire Hickey, Munster Rugby on tel: 021-4323563 or email email@example.com
Registration costs €;50, with a minimum of €;300 required per cyclist to participate – regardless of how many stages you wish to participate in.
Stage 1: Sunday, June 19 – Musgrave Park to Thomond Park (98km/61 miles)
Stage 2: Monday, June 20 – Thomond Park to Roscrea RFC (74km/46 miles)
Stage 3A: Tuesday, June 21 – Portlaoise RFC to Maynooth (67km/41.5 miles)
Stage 3B: Tuesday, June 21 – Maynooth to Trinity College (29km/18 miles) *
*Munster Rugby’s involvement ends at Stage 3B finish
If not taking part in the cycle, please show your support by donating online here to the Munster Rugby Cycle for Paul Darbyshire and Motor Neurone Research Ireland.