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VC Glendale rising to charity challenge

VC Glendale riders: (l to r): Sean McCourt, Joe Finnegan, Jim Watson, Conrad Kettyles, Toby Watson, Paul Hutchinson, Pearse McCurdy, Raymond Rea, Michael Hughes, John Murray, Colm Watson and Scott Lewis.
The Irish News

West Belfast's VC Glendale continue to race from strength to strength.

Fresh from their successful launch of the VC Glendale Academy, aimed at producing a new generation of young cyclists, the club are delighted with the news that another of their young stars, Darcey Harkness, has been selected by the Commission of Cycling Ireland for the upcoming Rás na mBan.

The women’s commission has named two strong teams for the upcoming Rás na mBan, with all but one of the riders having represented the team previously in international events.

And the VC Glendale club (Facebook: @VC.Glendale) aren’t about to rest on their laurels, with a gruelling 170-mile Charity Challenge lined up for next month.

The club members are now busy preparing for the '3 Lough Challenge' which gets under way on September 4 in support of a very worthy cause, The Motor Neurone Disease Association (MND) Northern Ireland in support of DeterMND.

The stiff 170-mile challenge takes in a lap of Lough Neagh, Lough Beg and Strangford Lough - all in one day.



The club had initially planned to ride the entire length of Ireland in October 2020 but had to park that idea due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

“Our friend and fellow cyclist Anto Finnegan was diagnosed with MND in 2012 and the funds raised will help with care and research for people living with MND,” said VC Glendale club spokesman Toby Watson.

The Motor Neurone Disease Association is the only national charity in Northern Ireland focused on MND care, research and campaigning.

Visit their main website at www.mndassociation.org for more information.

All donations are very welcome and can be made by searching Joe Finnegan on Gofundme or through the following link: https://gofund.me/aa900a36



VC Glendale Academy launch (l to r): Pearse McCurdy, Brendan Doherty, Curtis McKee, Aine Doherty, Adam Ward, Mark Harvey, Colm Watson pictured at the Balmoral Hotel. Picture by Toby Watson


Anto’s brother, Joe Finnegan, is a stalwart member of VC Glendale and is thrilled with the introduction of the Academy.

The coaching staff consists of ex-Irish champion Brendan Doherty, Colm Watson, who has competed in the eight-day Rás Tailteann, leading coach Mark Harvey and Frank Campbell who will manage it all.

“It's a pleasure to be involved in this and see the kids develop,” said Joe Finnegan.

“We have the backing of local sponsors and what we are setting out to do is to coach and nurture these kids to become elite athletes.

“In the future, we hope they can go on to compete in Irish Championships and we’ll get them away to Britain and across Europe to compete against the best of the best.

“We thank all our sponsors for their valuable support; The Balmoral Hotel, Charles Hurst Renault, Bioracer and CM Tiling; this wouldn’t be possible without them.’’


VC Glendale Academy member Aine Doherty. Picture by Toby Watson


VC Glendale was formed in 1981 by a passionate cycling man, Mark Graham, who had a vision of a top-ranked racing club based in west Belfast.

‘’Mark was way ahead of the game and knew all the ins and outs of bike racing happening right across Europe,'' said VC Glendale’s Pearse McCurdy.

‘’He picked the best-looking race jersey for his new club (the Belgium National jersey) and the dream was born.

‘’He recruited the best talent in Belfast to join his team and Glendale never looked back.’’

Sadly, Mark passed away in 1986 in a traffic accident on his way to a Cyclo-Cross race in Rostrevor but the solid foundations he laid by his vision and passion for cycling in west Belfast ensured the club flourished and produced scores of excellent riders.


VC Glendale Academy member Curtis McKee. Picture by Toby Watson


Rás na mBan

Women’s Cycling Ireland Team A

Claire Ní Reachtagain

Darcey Harkness

Elia Tutty

Carthach McCarthy

Emma Smith (Jun)

Women’s Cycling Ireland Team B

Grace Smith

Clodagh Allen

Keela MacHale

Elizabeth Kent

Agnieszka Samsel

Team Managers: Brendan Whelan and Colin McHale

Mechanic: David Brennan

Team Support: David Tilly


VC Glendale Academy squad and mentors at the Noel Teggart Open Race in Banbridge. Picture by Toby Watson



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