It’s a long way from Tipperary to Malin Head for seven cyclists

They’ve done the intensive training, carefully planned their 600 km route, and raised organ donor awareness and a mighty €12,000 so far for for the Tipperary Branch of the Irish Kidney Association. Now with just a day to go, the magnificent seven cyclists are resting before their gruelling  Mizen to Malin Head Cycling Challenge which they hope to complete within 24 hours. After months of training, seven members of Tipperary’s Upperchurch Drombane Cycling Club (UDCC) are gearing up for the big event and having now stalled their training they feel ready to tackle the long distance Mizen2Malin Ultra cycling event from the extremes of Ireland’s most southerly point to its tip and scaling 4,000 meters of elevation in the process.

Friends, family and supporters will gather with the seven cyclists at Mizen Head from 2pm on Saturday 25th June before they take off on their journey at 3pm as they are hoping for favourable weather conditions as they aim to have completed the 600 km distance comfortably within 24 hours. When they arrive at their destination their welcoming party will include 36 year old John Hegarty, a dialysis patient from Malin Head, and his wife Mary and four young children.

Taking part in the Mizen 2 Malin Challenge will be David Russell, an award winning young farmer from Thurles, as well as father and son David and Jamie Donovan, also from Thurles,  along with  building contractor Seamus Duggan, from Templemore, farmer Pat Heffernan from Moyglass, Fethard,  James Tobin, an Actuary, who lives in Urlingford, Co Kilkenny, (on the Tipperary border), and self employed kidney patient Francis Hogan from Templemore.

Cyclist Francis Hogan, age 45,  said earlier this week, “we have been training hard for months now so we have tapered off our training down to zero to rest our bodies to be ready for our mammoth journey on Saturday. Our focus now is on  making sure  we are mentally prepared and that our bikes are in good order and that we have the necessary supplies and appropriate clothing to cover all eventualities with the weather. We are hoping for tail winds rather than head winds to ease our journey arriving at our destination at Malin Head less than 24 hours later but regardless of the weather we are determined to complete the task.  We are hugely grateful for our support team who will be travelling by van and minibus. We have been blown away by the many corporate and individual donations which has so far raised close to €12,000 for a cause very close to my heart, the Irish Kidney Association. People can follow our progress and make further donations to the Tipperary Branch of the Irish Kidney Association through our Upperchurch Drombane Cycling Club (UDCC) Facebook page. We hope to raise as much money as possible for the charity which does great work in supporting and advocating for kidney patients.”

Francis, a father of five children, was diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKS), a hereditary condition. when he was in his early twenties. Through careful medical intervention and medication and healthy lifestyle choices, including dietary and fitness, he has slowed down the progression of his disease and he now has 25% kidney function. Francis is a strong advocate for fitness in aiding a person’s physical and emotional wellbeing. In 2001 Francis’s late father Gus, who also shared the same hereditary kidney condition, passed away in hospital, at the young age of 49, with heart failure just a day after undergoing a kidney transplant.

Speaking at a recent launch event held in Liberty Square Thurles announcing the cycle challenge, Orla Hogan, the Secretary of the Tipperary Branch of the Irish Kidney Association said, “we are hugely grateful to UDCC and greatly admire these seven men who are truly magnificent for undertaking this gruelling challenge to support the work of the Irish Kidney Association and in the process are raising organ donor awareness. The fact that there are seven brave men involved in the challenge is an accidentally symbolic coincidence in that one organ donor can save seven lives. We wish them every success with their challenge, we look forward to following it on their Facebook page and we thank everyone who is involved in supporting it.”

Orla’s four kidney transplants came as a result of her hereditary kidney condition, Bidel Vardot Syndrome. She underwent two living donor kidney transplants, one from her mother Nora in 1991 and following two deceased donor kidney transplants which each lasted four years, her most recent successful and longest surviving transplant, took place in 2008 with a kidney donated by her younger brother Cathal Hogan. Orla comes from a well-known sporting family in Tipperary.Her father Séamus Hogan played hurling for Tipperary when they won the all-Ireland final in 1971.

Anyone wishing to contribute to the event’s fundraiser can do so online to

Individuals who wish to support organ donation are encouraged to Share their Wishes and keep the reminders of their decision available by carrying the organ donor card, permitting Code 115 to be included on their driver’s licence or having the ‘digital organ donor card’ App on their smartphone. Organ Donor Cards can be requested by visiting the IKA or  to your phone, phoning the Irish Kidney Association on 01 6205306 or Free text the word DONOR to 50050 


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