‘The atmosphere of positivity, togetherness and community was unreal’ – Connacht clubs look back on Care4Claire cycle

22 August 2022

‘The atmosphere of positivity, togetherness and community was unreal’ – Connacht clubs look back on Care4Claire cycle
Last week, a team of cyclists set out on a 218km journey from The Sportsground in Galway to Sligo Rugby Club, taking in all five counties in the province along the way.

The cycle was in aid of 35-year-old Sligo native, Claire Carpenter, who suffered a stroke earlier this year. Claire is the partner of Connacht staff member Ross Mannion and the event was part of an initiative to raise funds for her continued rehabilitation.

One of the standout features of the cycle was the camaraderie between all of the representatives from clubs around the province.

Carrick on Shannon RFC’s Ciarán McBrien mentioned this when discussing his experience.

He said: “The cycle, simply put, was one of the best experiences of my life. From start to finish the atmosphere of positivity, togetherness and community was unreal. I’d sign up again for it in a heartbeat”.

This was a sentiment shared by Patrick Curran from Galwegians RFC: “The cycle was brilliant. An amazing day and a great group of people to do it with. We all had a great laugh throughout.”

Paul, who is the Galwegians U20s' coach, added that arriving to Claire’s home village of Coolaney reminded the group of the goal of the event.

He added: “Meeting Claire and Ross in Sligo was the highlight. It really hit home what we were raising funds for.”

Of course, after such a long journey, there was some relief when the troupe reached their final destination in Sligo RFC. However,  they did not anticipate the level of welcome they were going to get.

Julian Rippon, who is a former coach and player in Sligo RFC, mentioned this: “It was an amazing feeling pulling into the club. I couldn’t get over the crowds. There was a great sense of relief as well. I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.”

Damien Meehan, from Claremorris, was another who expressed his delight at the welcome.

He said:“Coming into Sligo was something special. Never have I experienced such a reception. We turned into Sligo RFC and were welcomed with a guard of honour, followed by 100s of cheering people. It was something special.”

Dara Geary from Monivea RFC also praised the final destination.

He said: “Arriving into Sligo was fantastic, there was a massive welcome for us."

“I just want to know thing, when’s the next one?”, he added

You can donate to Care4Claire GoFundMe and hear more about Claire and Ross' story here.