Northern Ireland news

Gaelic football tournament to take place in memory of Co Down woman whose cancer battle inspired campaign

Siobhan McCann passed away in May

A GAELIC football tournament is to take place in memory of a Co Down woman whose cancer battle inspired a campaign to fund potentially life-prolonging treatment not available on the NHS.

Last October, a special fundraising day was held in support of Siobhan McCann after she was diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

The event, which included a ladies’ sevens tournament, helped to meet the £100,000 target needed by the young Castlewellan woman in her bid to access vital treatment.

But sadly, the 26-year-old lost her battle and passed away in May.

Now a year on from the major fundraising drive, her family and friends are set to come together once again in her honour.

They have organised another football tournament, which will see 24 teams from across Ireland and Britain take part, this time in memory of Ms McCann.

Funds raised at the October 19 event, which will be held at Ms McCann’s home club, St John’s GAC, will be donated to the Cancer Fund for Children.

Friend Cormac Mullan last night told The Irish News it would be a "way of keeping Siobhan's memory alive".

Ms McCann was a keen Gaelic footballer, playing with St John’s since the age of five and representing her county from U16 to senior level.

Living in London, she played for Dulwich Harps GAC and worked as a physiotherapist for Fulham Irish GAA.

But after she was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in April 2018, she returned home for chemotherapy and was due to have a tumour removed when she was told the condition had spread to her liver, meaning surgery was no longer an option.

Her friends began the fundraising campaign to help her access the costly cancer medication, Bevacizumab (Avastin), which was not available on the NHS.

Mr Mullan last night said the ladies' sevens tournament will feature teams close to Ms McCann's heart.

"There will be 24 teams taking part, home teams she was involved with as well as Dulwich Harps GAC from London and Fulham Irish GAA, where she worked as a physiotherapist," he said.

"Last year it was all about raising funds for her treatment, but 53 weeks on and we are running another tournament, in her memory.

"We felt it was important to represent things Siobhan loved - football and a night of entertainment. All the funds raised will go towards the Cancer Fund for Children, each team has been asked for a donation.

"Siobhan was always involved in juvenile football and was a fan of children in sport so that's why we feel it was important that the money went towards young people."

Mr Mullan said following the tournament there will be a raffle and entertainment. Money previously raised for Siobhan's treatment will also be split among a number of charities.

"It will be an emotional day, there's so many people coming over for it, including the girls from her London team," he said.

"There will also be specially commissioned jerseys, which represent many things in Siobhan's life.

"The crest on them is made up of the bowel cancer ribbon to raise awareness of this cancer and the five crests on the back of the jersey represent the clubs Siobhan was involved in, St Johns, Loughinisland, Down Ladies, Fulham Irish and Dulwich Harps.

"The number eight represents the position Siobhan played most of her playing career.

"We want it to be a way of keeping Siobhan's memory alive."

The Siobhan McCann Ladies' Sevens tournament will take place at St John's GAC, Castlewellan on October 19 from 11.30am.

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