Dublin: 15°C Wednesday 17 August 2022

Dublin hurler set for 1,100km cycle to raise money for heart charities

Cormac Ryan, who has a pacemaker implanted on his chest, sets off around Ireland on Friday as part of a four-man team to raise awareness.

The Cycle For Life 2013 team.
The Cycle For Life 2013 team.

LAST THURSDAY NIGHT Cormac Ryan donned the Dublin jersey.

As goalkeeper of the county minor hurling side that contested the 2011 All-Ireland final, he is a prime candidate for consideration for this year’s U21 squad.

Lining out in a challenge game last week was a chance to audition his talents for the bigger dates later in the year.

But for Ryan this was no routine challenge game. Being back in action at inter-county level was a major personal milestone.

Twelve months ago Ryan was diagnosed with a heart condition known as heart block, a form of arrythmia. He has had a pacemaker implanted in his chest and the gravity of the condition is not lost on him.

“It’s great to be back playing. I’m flying it now. I played my first club game on the day after Paddy’s Day but was outfield for that.

“So to be back in goal with Dublin was brilliant. I’ve been training away since January, not a bother on me, and had a check up recently at the CRY centre in Tallaght which went well.”

Yet he’s not just content to get back playing hurling and has also resolved to try to increase awareness of the condition.

Next Friday, Cormac, his older brother Sean and their two friends – Niall O’Donnell and Kevin Conway – will hop on board their bikes in Dublin.

Niall also suffers from a heart condition called tachycardia whereby his heart beats too fast while Kevin has a close family member with an ICD (defibrillator) implanted.

Over the following ten days the quartet will navigate 1,100km of road around Ireland. Their trek is split into various stages and fittingly the first stop will be in Eglish, the homeplace of former Tyrone footballer Cormac McAnallen who tragically passed away in 2004 from an undetected heart condition.

From there they will move on to Derry, Sligo, Westport, Galway, Kilmallock, Cork, Waterford, Courtown and finally finish off back in Dublin.

Pic: GoogleMaps

It’s all part of ‘Cycle For Life 2013’ which has raised €20,000 so far for The Irish Heart Foundation, CRY(Cardiac Risk in the Young) and The Cormac Trust.

“We’re nearly ready to go now,” says Cormac. ”We’ve been training since the end of September. We went for April to do the cycle because we all have commitments during the summer between GAA and one of the lads is going to the States.

“So our main training was during the winter. Since January we were doing 200-250km every weekend and have gradually tapered it down since. We did most of the training in North Dublin around Howth, Malahide and Balbriggan.

“Sean would have a cycling background which helped us. We also linked up with David Curtin, who played for Dublin, as he’s doing a cycle Malin To Mizen later in the year for the Irish Haemophilia Society.”

The support they have received has been staggering.

“People have been amazing in their help. We thought accommodation was going to cost us but every place we contacted has sponsored our stay when they heard about the cycle we were doing.

“The McAnallen family are looking after us in Tyrone for example. There’s going to be receptions for us in Westport and Limerick as well. The support from the GAA community has been fantastic as well, particularly from my home club Whitehall and the Dublin county board.”

They are now applying the finishing touches to their preparations and keeping a close eye on the weather forecast as well.

“We’re hoping the weather will pick up alright,” laughs Cormac. “Once there’s no heavy torrential rain we’ll be happy. Once you wrap up well and have the Under Armour gear on, you don’t feel the cold as bad. We can’t wait to get stuck into it now.”

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Cormac Ryan in action for the Dublin minor hurlers.
Pic: INPHO/Ryan Byrne



The issue of young people being diagnosed with heart problems has become more prevalent in recent years and Cork man Ed Donovan is at the forefront of trying to address the issue.

In March 2010, Donovan set up Heartaid, a company that specialise in cardiac screening. He was previously involved in healthcare management

“I always thought of heart related issues as been an older person’s disease. The further I l researched into it the more it made sense to set up a quality screening service that is both accessible & affordable to all people.”

Heartaid has been working in recent years with the GAA as they provide cardiac screening to all senior inter-county players, in a programme that is continuing throughout 2013.

They also work with the AUL soccer league and are a service provider to LAYA healthcare.

For more information see: www.heartaid.ie

About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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