Fintan McCormack pictured outside Dr Hyde Park on Saturday evening following his 355km cycle throughout the county.
Fintan McCormack pictured outside Dr Hyde Park on Saturday evening following his 355km cycle throughout the county.

Faithleach's clubman McCormack embarks on epic cycling adventure

By Cian O’Connell

“With the Covid restrictions and no football going on I started cycling again,” St Faithleach’s clubman Fintan McCormack explains about how the idea to embark on a mammoth fundraising trek across Roscommon commenced.

Last Saturday McCormack left the Faithleach’s clubhouse on his bicycle at 4.30am, visited all 32 GAA clubs in Roscommon, before finishing at Dr Hyde Park at 10.30pm in aid of the Simon Community.

It was a noble effort with money still being gathered for a good cause and McCormack explains how the plan unfolded. “I'm heavily involved with my club as kitman and waterboy with the senior team and also involved with the juniors in a way,” McCormack says.

“I'm living on my own, I was absolutely bored out of my mind. So I decided to get back on the bike. I used to do triathlons and I had the bike in the shed. It was collecting rust, but one day I decided when the restrictions came up to 5k, I went around back roads and I took in some cycling.

“Just to get out the house and to keep the mind going. Then one day I cycled down to a Gaelic club and I took a picture, sent it on to a couple of lads in the club.

“When I was coming home it was in my head that if I could pinpoint clubs in certain areas by going to three clubs one day, four clubs another day, five clubs another day. Then I came home and I mapped every club in the county for one day.”

Then McCormack opted to seek advice and suddenly the wheels were literally in motion. “For two days I was thinking about whether I could do it, I got on to a lad called Daire Feeley, he is a semi professional from Roscommon town,” McCormack adds.

“I sent him a message on Instagram and I asked him about a training programme. He said no problem at all, roughly he asked how long did I think I would need to train for before I could do the cycle. I was going to do the cycle on my own, for my own frame of mind rather than a charity at the time.

“I said roughly a month so he gave me a programme and I was training for a month under his programme. Anything he asked me to do, I did it. Fair play to him for helping me out the way he did because I wouldn't have done it otherwise.”

Fintan McCormack pictured at Éire Óg GAA Club in Roscommon.
Fintan McCormack pictured at Éire Óg GAA Club in Roscommon.

Faithleach’s imminent return to Intermediate Championship action this weekend meant that last Saturday was the day McCormack wanted to accomplish the mission.

“The week before I did four hours 50 minutes,” McCormack remarks about his training regime. “That was my longest cycle on my own. I did a cycle a couple of years ago from Celbridge to Galway for charity, fundraising, but the longest I had done on my own was that one, nearly five hours.”

In the early hours of July 18 McCormack set out on a journey, but is eager to stress the importance of Ciaran Murray and Stephen O’Connor in this venture.

“My dad and my uncle were helping me out,” McCormack states. “We were training on Friday night, a club mate of mine, he rang me and asked me who I was cycling with? I said I was going on my own, but he said he would go with me for a couple of hours, and that he had a few other lads coming with him.

“Ciaran Murray from Kilbride and Stephen O'Connor from Kilbride, Four Mile House area, they came out with me on Saturday morning.

“Only for Stephen and Ciaran Murray I wouldn't have been able to do it. Ciaran Murray and myself did the whole thing together.

“He came to my club grounds at St Faithleach's, we left at 4.30am, he did the whole thing. Throughout the cycle I was telling him that the two of us were going to finish at Dr Hyde Park together. The two of us did the cycle all day.”

His dad and uncle were valuable contributors to the effort too, supplying comforting words throughout. “They had all the water and food in the back of the car,” McCormack responds.

“I met other people along the way, family and friends came out to support me. Some of them cycled with me, from my old cycling club a member came out and he brought a friend. They did about 60 or 70k too. To everybody that came out to cycle with me, I appreciated it. I wouldn't have done it otherwise.

Members of the St Faithleach's Intermediate Football team gathered at Dr Hyde Park on Saturday.
Members of the St Faithleach's Intermediate Football team gathered at Dr Hyde Park on Saturday.

“You needed that support. Not going to lie at one stage I was going to pack it in, but because I knew I was going to meet my brother in law at Loughglynn, I knew he was coming, and Stephen O'Connor, a lad who had started with me in the morning, he was coming back to meet me.

“I pushed through the pain, but I did it for a reason: The Simon Community and because of the situation we are all in, we don't know what is around the corner. I wanted to do it in one day. That was my aim, people who know me, know that if I say something I mean it.

“I'm very grateful to everybody that helped me out on the day, especially Ciaran Murray, Stephen O'Connor, and Frank Beatty for helping me to finish it off. All of my family and friends and to people who sponsored me, I'd like to thank them and Creegs and Ballinameen GAA for feeding us along the way.”

Undoubtedly last leg of the 355km adeventure brought joy when making the trip from Roscommon Gaels pitch to the Hyde.

“The last club we finished up at was Roscommon Gaels, as we were coming back into the town a Garda passed me,” McCormack comments.

“He was actually a neighbour of mine and a good friend, he passed me out. I didn't know there was going to be a homecoming.

"I thought it was going to be family and friends, but there was a lot of club members and I thank them for coming out supporting me.

“We got a Garda escort Stephen O'Connor, Ciaran Murray, Frank Beatty from Roscommon Cycling Club, and myself. We got an escort up the Athlone Road into Dr Hyde Park.”

It was well deserved with Faithleach’s red and white colours offering a nice backdrop outside the famous Roscommon ground on a sultry Saturday evening.

To donate to the fundraiser [click here]( "undefined")._