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Will Rás na hEireann survive?

Off The Ball
Off The Ball

08:20 9 Nov 2018


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People of a certain vintage will remember when cycling brought thousands onto the streets of Ireland.

Admittedly thats before we all became aware of the extent of drug taking at the top level of the sport, but back then events like the Nissan Classic and even the Tour De France which ran a stage here, got pulses racing.

There are very few events apart maybe from the various city marathons here that enable local people race against top pros.

One event that did, and at the same time allowed a showcase of regional Ireland was the An Post Rás.

The race began in 1953 and has been held every year since. 

It has a worldwide reputation of being a gruelling challenge in the elite, International calendar, but the open racing style allows amateur county and club riders to pit themselves against domestic and international professionals.

For the past 7 years the Rás Tailteann was sponsored by the national postal service An Post, and although no title sponsor is currently in place which has given rise to concern for its future.

 

The organisers of Rás Tailteann have ruled out turning to crowdfunding to keep the race on the road next year.

Race director Eimear Dignam understandably believes a longer-term plan is required.

“A lot of people have been suggesting raising money online through crowdfunding websites like Go Fund Me,” Dignam said.

“And it’s not as if we haven’t been acknowledging people’s ideas. But this way of doing things is just firefighting for 2019.

“We need a sponsor that is going to sustain us for the next three to five years. “We are all volunteers and you cannot keep going to the well for the whole of June, July and August of every year looking to try and secure another €350,000 for the following year.”

Dignam said there was definitely no more money left in reserve, with any spare cash used up last year.

You would imagine with reports of the Celtic Tiger's return, there must be someone out there who could help save the event.

Talk of encouraging exercise, showcasing the regions?

Surely Shane Ross is the man to step in and allocate a few bob?

Hopefully the Rás can be saved.

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