Mickey Linden, Ross Carr and Paul Higgins return to Down jersey for Masters game with Donegal in aid of PIPS
ALL-IRELAND winners Mickey Linden, Ross Carr and Paul Higgins will pull the red and black jersey on once again when they take part in a Down Masters charity match against Donegal Masters in aid of suicide awareness charity PIPS at Tullylish GAC on Saturday, November 23.
The game, which throws-in at 4pm, is being supported by the Gaelic Masters' Association and will be followed by music and craic in the clubrooms. Organiser Willie Fitzpatrick is a Down Masters player and mentor who has battled with depression himself.
“Depression is real,” he said.
“In my case it probably goes back to when I was a child. I lost my brother John when I was nine and back then you couldn't even mention John's name, it was like a bad word.
“The help wasn't there 36 years ago but you can get it today and should anybody wish to make a donation, whether it's a pound or fifty quid, every penny helps towards this cause.”
The death of a close friend 18 months ago inspired Fitzpatrick to organise the fundraising event for PIPS. A staunch GAA man throughout his life, he felt a Down Masters game was the perfect fit.
“Don't suffer in silence, you are not alone,” he urged.
“Depression is real but if I can beat it anyone can so keep your head up and get help if you need it. My outlet was my local GAA club and that is what keeps me going.”
Willie freely admits that getting involved in Masters football helped to turn his life around and he hopes that the Down versus Donegal game could be a lifeline to other people in a similar position.
“If we can help one person, then it's a success and I hope it is,” he said.
“We're getting in a lot of sponsorship and it's not about Down Masters or Donegal Masters or Tullylish club, it's about suicide awareness and mental health in general.
“It affects us all. Maybe it's not you directly, maybe it's your friend or someone in your family. Mental health affects everybody every day in life. I have struggled myself and I have got through it so now it's time for me to give something back.
“The feedback and the sponsorship has been unreal so far, let's just hope we get the people through the gate on the day.”