Sunday 17 December 2017

Donal was on my shoulder, says dad after epic ride

Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

IT was a job done and a promise fulfilled – grieving father Fionnbar Walsh has completed the route taken by his son Donal just one short year ago to help raise money for cancer research.

Mr Walsh led the Cross Rugby Legends from Killarney to Moll's Gap in Co Kerry yesterday, part of their Malin to Mizen cycle dedicated to Donal's memory.

The teenager, who lost his battle with lung cancer in May, completed the journey last year with a prosthetic knee and recovering from an operation that had removed part of his lung.

TERMINAL

He was diagnosed with terminal cancer only six weeks later.

Mr Walsh, on Donal's bike, and a group of about 100 supporters – including some of Donal's young cousins, his closest friends and his teachers – set out from Tralee Rugby Club on the 110km trek.

But first they stopped briefly outside his home in Blennerville, where a minute's silence was observed before cycling on for Killarney to join forces with the Cross Rugby Legends.

"We took the same route as Donal did so that was a bit emotional," said Mr Walsh, who continued on to Bantry with the group.

"That last 1km coming up Moll's Gap took the biscuit but I think Donal was on my shoulder."

Weary, hungry and soaking wet, the remaining 70 cyclists rolled into Mizen Head in Co Cork at 5.25pm having completed a gruelling 675km in seven days.

Among them were former greats Mick Galwey, David Campese (Australia), Anton Oliver (All Blacks), Liam Toland and Richard, David and Paul Wallace, who is also patron of the Cross charity.

Other international stars who joined in included Rob Wainwright (Scotland), Tom Shanklin (England), Lee Mears (England), Paddy Johns and Denis McBride.

Mr Galwey said returning to Tralee and the reception they got at Donal's school, CBS The Green, made it really special.

"Last year, we met Donal here at this very spot and he came all the way to Tralee with us," he said.

"Little did we think that 12 months later, he wouldn't be here with us but we all know the impact he has left."

Irish Independent

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