Rosses C.S.C.   Charity Cycle

In Sharkey’s Bar in Annagry on a winters night, little did we think of what lay ahead when Michael Sharkey announced that he had an idea for our next charity fundraiser.

“I’ll cycle from Annagry to Celtic Park”. You could have heard a pin drop. When the members had time to think about it, the idea began to grow on them and the challenge that Michael laid down “If the club do the fundraising, I’ll do the cycle” became a challenge we couldn’t resist.

The two charities were chosen, The Donegal Hospice and Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin, Dublin. The people of the locality and surrounding area got behind the club totally, this type of help makes fundraising a lot easier and also the fact that we had two very worthy charities was a major factor.

Michael started training, doing 20 miles a day gradually rising to 80 miles a day before he set off, compiling around 1,000 miles in training. When Hughie Mc Gee from Gweedore heard about the cycle, he offered to help Michael and joined him in his training when ever possible, he also offered to cycle to Larne to assist on the earlier stages. Hughie eventually cycled to Celtic Park, because like the rest of us he got caught up in the excitement and didn’t want to miss what would become a really memorable trip.

Michael and Hughie set off on a lovely Wednesday evening on the first stage to Letterkenny. The crowd that turned out to wish them well was so unexpected, it made us realise that we had caught the imagination of everyone and had their full support.

TG 4 were there to film a news report for the evening news and Anthony Mc Ginley a famous local cyclist, gave them a helping hand to start them on their way.

The support vehicle accompanied the cyclists on their journey, providing food and drink and protection from traffic on dangerous stretches of roadway. The crew aboard all had their own jobs. Michéal did the driving and fixed the puncture, only one on the whole trip (on the Glenshane Pass). Conal gave daily reports back to Radio Na Gaeltachta, so the people at home knew how they were progressing. Josie was the moneyman (Treasurer), he organised the digs and paid all the bills.

Thursday they set off from Letterkenny, the weather was not too kind to them, very heavy drizzle, but the lhads didn’t complain, head down it’s all for a good cause. They arrived in Larne, early evening, where the “good people” of Larne looked after them, they didn’t charge for the showers in the leisure centre when they heard it was for charity, must have been some of our own. They travelled to Cairnryan that evening and stayed in Stranrear. There Pat Bonner from Glasgow joined them, originally from Arranmore, he offered to cycle with them on the last two stages.

Friday they cycled to Troon with no mishaps, the weather was lovely and everyone was fit and well.

Saturday they cycled up to Glasgow and came to the Days Inn to meet up with the rest of the club members who had travelled over on Friday night. The events that now followed will live with these cyclists for a long time.

The police motorcycle escort arrived as promised at 12.30pm, this was arranged by Paddy Doherty of Culdaff Construction.

As the cavalcade left the Gorbals, we didn’t expect to stop all traffic until we arrived at Celtic Park, but that is exactly what happened. At every set of lights, traffic was stopped the cyclists waved on the support vehicle and the coach followed, the lhads said it was a great buzz to do it like that. I can also tell you we got some looks of disbelief as we passed through Bridgeton Cross with a police escort.

A large crowd of Donegal people welcomed the lhads when they arrived at the front door of Celtic Park. As usual Jim Greenan was there to represent the A.I.C.S.C.     With the journey completed there was only one thing left to do,   “Michael Sharkey take a bow”

Michael was introduced to the crowd and did a lap of honour around the pitch before the Dunfermline game on Saturday 13th April 2002,a day that he will never forget.

The crowd rose clapping and cheering as he cycled around, it was really an emotional site to see. It felt great to be a part of such a great achievement.

Tony Hamilton then interviewed Michael, he thanked everyone who made it possible for him to have achieved his ambition and raise so much for charity. Tony said cheerio and wished him well on his cycle “hame”.

The club held a function that night in Sharkey’s Bar in Glasgow. The generosity of the people present that night was unbelievable. The club would like to say a special thanks to Isa and Peter Sharkey and the Donegal people in Glasgow.

As you would expect the weekend was finished off nicely with the local band out to welcome Michael home and another night's craic in Sharkey's Bar, Annagry.

Conal switched on the video of the trip over, and the scenes inside Celtic Park could be appreciated by the people not lucky enough to have been there. What a fitting end.

The club would like to thank everyone who sponsored Michael and contributed to the fund for the two charities. We would like to thank the A.I.C.S.C. for their help in organising access to Celtic Park and advertising the cycle on the Lhist.

We would also like to thank Celtic Football Club and their Supporters for the welcome they gave to Michael, and their co-operation in making it a day to remember.

The fund presently stands at 27,000 Euro. When all the money is collected it will be equally divided between The Donegal Hospice and Our Lady’s Hospital, Crumlin.

                                                                                                  Jimmy Boyle