A GROUP of cyclists completed a gruelling journey to the North West from Ireland yesterday in memory of rugby league player Paul Darbyshire who died this week.
The Wigan-born player lost his battle with Motor Neurone Disease on Monday, the day after the group left Musgrave Park in Cork for their mammoth trek to Warrington, where Darbyshire spent 18 years as a player before taking on a variety of coaching roles.
The ride was organised by people connected with Munster Rugby Union club, where Darbyshire had held the role of strength and conditioning coach since 2007. Players Ronan O’Gara, David Wallace, Tony Buckley, Billy Holland and Darragh Hurley joined backroom staff, supporters and friends on the opening stage on Sunday, where they were joined by Darbyshire’s wife, Lyndsay.
However, the Wigan St Patrick’s product passed away hours later on Monday morning. But the group carried on, determined to complete the course in his honour.
Highlights from the first day included eight-year-old Tadhg O’Muirheartaigh from Maynooth cycling the complete route over 100kms, while Montpellier’s Stephane Racano – a member of the Munster Supporters Club London Branch – showed his dedication by making his way over from London, renting a bike and joining the group.
Supporters and cyclists went on to enjoy a Night of Music organised by the Munster Rugby Supporters Club in with artists Mick Hanrahan, Celtic Whisper, Pat Shortt, Hermitage Green and Mary Kate Geraghty entertaining the crowd.
The Irish leg finished on Tuesday evening at Trinity College, Dublin with those continuing on sailing to Holyhead on Wednesday.
The final stage saw the cyclists head for Colwyn Bay and then yesterday they cycled the 98km into Warrington.
A statement from the club said: “The support has been overwhelming from everyone and we cannot thank you enough for your donations and words of support.”
Funds raised from the event 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.
Donations are still being taken at www.mycharity.ie/event/munster_rugby_charity_cycle.