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Cullyhanna men trade boots for cleats in Ring of Kerry cycle for two ‘invaluable’ charities

The cycle – which is planned for July 6 – will fall close to the third anniversary of Peter’s mother, Majella’s passing through cancer on July 8

Two footballing friends from Cullyhanna are trading their boots for cleats, aiming to complete the 170km Ring of Kerry route in a fundraising effort for two charities that are close to their hearts.

Peter McKeever (38) and Conor McShane (40) aim to raise £2000 to be split equally between the Southern Area Hospice Newry and the Rainbow Club Crossmaglen.

This Holy Grail of routes has been something the pair have toyed with completing for several years. This year, when the topic resurfaced, Peter put it to Conor that they should do it for charity and – with Conor in complete agreement – it wasn’t long before plans were set in motion.

The cycle – which is planned for July 6 – will fall close to the third anniversary of Peter’s mother, Majella’s passing through cancer on July 8. A poignant detail, as Peter says she is the main inspiration behind the effort.

Speaking to Armagh I Peter explained: “Luckily enough my mother hadn’t had to use the hospice, but she was very fond of it and years ago we did big fund raisers for it.

“She was in Daisy Hill but she still had the palliative care from the hospice come out to her. We have also had family members who have passed away that did use the hospice and a cousin who was very close to my mother.

“It’s something that sits tight to us, especially in this area in South Armagh. Everyone knows someone who needed it. Every family has been touched with it.”

The Rainbow Club, an organisation for children and adults with special learning and additional needs, also holds special significance for the duo having been an ‘invaluable’ space Majella frequently enjoyed visiting with Peter’s uncle, Miceal who had Down Syndrome.

“My mother loved it, and she would have been in all the time at wee dances and things with him [Peter’s uncle] every weekend and it was great for her and him,” added Peter.

“He lived with us all our lives. It’s so close to our heart and we have family members and friends with children in it too.

“The Rainbow Club is all voluntary, they are a wonderful group of caring and hardworking people, who deserve money in the pot to organize more events and allow other local families to create memories.”

The bespoke jersey that Peter and Conor will each wear along the route

For Conor – a cyclist with two years’ practice under his belt – the cycle should be a moderate challenge, however, Peter is perhaps a little more quietly confident.

He said: “This is totally new to me. I would have been on a bike here and there, but this is the first year that I’ve actually put in any cycling at all.

“I’m training flat out, starting at 40k and 50k but I did 111k on Saturday and it needs it.

“We’re moving at a good pace and sticking well together and both of us are around the same level so we can push each other on.

“We’ll get it done. With the football you dig deep and just get on with it and it’s the exact same with this. We’ll get round it no bother.”

Together they hope to see the finish line within eight hours with a small group of friends and family present to cheer them along.

They will start and finish the effort regaled in bespoke jerseys complete with 18 logos, each representing a local business that has kindly contributed to the pot.

The pair have created a GoFundMe page to collate funds – which Peter says will have surpassed their £2000 total once cash donations have been added.

If you wish to contribute to Peter and Conor’s Ring of Kerry fundraiser you can do so here.

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