The recently completed Connacht Rugby and Bank of Ireland For The Love of The Club virtual run/walk raised over €30,000 for Club and Community rugby in Connacht.
Over 2,000 people put on their running shoes in aid of the Connacht club of their choice or -- for the unaffiliated -- club and community rugby in the province generally with all of the money raised going directly to the cause.
The event wasn’t just confined to the four corners of the five western counties, and participants took part in 25 Irish counties and 11 different countries, which shows the breadth of the Connacht Rugby club & community footprint throughout the world.
We caught up with some of the international contingent who shared their stories, images of their walking/running route, and how the event helped them stay connected to their clubs and -- by extension - their communities in the midst of a global pandemic.
John Gorham represented Connemara RFC from Chicago. The Clifden native said that the For The Love of The Club event enabled him -- and his fellow participants, including the 2016 Rose of Tralee -- to stay in touch with his home club.
“My friends and I really enjoyed our run,” he said.
“We started and finished at “the Kerryman pub” here in Chicago. We ran a 5k course that is used for the running club during the summer. We kept the runners to a minimum due to restrictions.
“When finishing we settled in for a “couple” of pints to watch Ireland beat England.
"Among our runners was the 2016 Rose of Tralee Maggie McEldowney and a couple of guys from the Chicago Lions Rugby Club.
“I love the fact that events like this help me stay in touch with my club back home. Connemara RFC has always had a place in my heart and with social media, online lotto, and now events like this I can stay in touch and contribute to the club.”
John Gorman, centre, and his fellow runners/walkers in Chicago.
Moving continents, Jonathan Cleary took part in the run/walk in aid of Ballyhaunis RFC in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. Cleary was proud to represent the Mayo club, whom he described as a community focal point.
“Ballyhaunis RFC have a long and treasured tradition in the community and are a focal point for many a generation,” he said.
"It’s fantastic to see the progress the Club has made in terms of their underage programmes, facilities, and a wide network that reaches far beyond the town. I would like to wish them every success in the future and look forward to bigger, brighter, and better things once the lockdown has passed.”
Jonathan Cleary took part in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Elsewhere, Martin McDonagh ran in aid of Corinthians RFC in Melbourne, Australia.
“Connacht Rugby had been a huge part of my life from a very young age being involved with Corinthians and having had the opportunity to work and be involved in Connacht over the years so I found it important to show my support from Melbourne, Australia for a great cause,” he said.
Martin McDonagh's running route through Melbourne