Four of Munster’s recent British & Irish Lions will be pedaling away this weekend to help raise funds for the former strength and conditioning coach Paul Darbyshire and Motor Neurone Research Ireland.
Darbyshire, who was struck down by the disease last year, spent 18 seasons at Warrington Wolves as a player and coach and proved hugely popular when he joined Munster.
Now more than 90 people, including 2009 Lions Ronan O'Gara, David Wallace and Keith Earls, 1993 tourist Mick Glawey and Irish internationals Tomas O'Leary and Marcus Horan, are signed up to take part in the early stages of the Munster Darby Fundraising Cycle that kicks off at 10am from Musgrave Park, Cork on Sunday.
In total, the ride will cover 272 miles from Cork back to Warrington between 18-23 June, with the Munster players getting involved in three stages up to Dublin.
O'Gara, Wallace and O'Leary, along with team mates, Billy Holland and Denis Fogarty, will lead off the first stage alongside a six strong group from Darbyshire's home town of Warrington for the 61 mile trek that's expected to arrive in Thomond Park Stadium around 4.00 pm on Sunday evening.
On Monday it's on to Roscrea Rugby Club, a leg that will include Munster Academy players and senior squad members Earls, Horan and Wian du Preez, with the final Irish leg.
That will start from Portlaoise (Midway Hotel) and end in Maynooth (Glenroyal Hotel) before the final push to Trinity College where it's expected to arrive around 6.00 pm to be greeted by Shane Jennings, Malcolm O'Kelly, Eoin Reddan, John Fogarty, Robert Kearney and their colleagues from the Leinster squad.
Darbyshire and his family were among the main guests at their recent Magners League Grand Final triumph over Leinster, with Darbyshire watching the game from the Munster dug out and his son, Jack, accepting the trophy along with skipper Paul O’Connell.
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 00353 (0) 21-4323563 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Registration costs €;50, with a minimum of €;300 required per cyclist to participate- regardless of how many stages in which you wish to participate.
Stage 1: Sunday 19 June – Musgrave Park – Thomond Park (61 miles)
Stage 2: Monday 20 June – Thomond Park– Roscrea RFC (46 miles)
Stage 3A: Tuesday 21 June – Portlaoise RFC– Maynooth (41.5 miles)
Stage 3B: Tuesday 21 June – Maynooth – Trinity College (18 miles)