Hurling and camogie

Newry Shamrocks embrace Celtic spirit with 12-hour hurlathon to support charities

Oisin Sheehan, son of Down hurling boss Ronan donated a Celtic shirt signed by most of the 1967 European Cup-winning Bhoys side as part of a Newry Shamrocks fundraiser. Picture by Philip Walsh
BY Neil Loughran

NEWRY Shamrocks embraced the spirit of Glasgow Celtic’s founding fathers when a round-the-world hurlathon raised much-needed funds for the St Vincent de Paul Society, the Southern Area Hospice and Daisy Hill hospital.

Video messages came from Dublin star Ciaran Kilkenny and Antrim’s Neil McManus, while Shamrocks members far and wide got involved as the sliothar began the day in Newry before working its way to the Ards peninsula, Cork, Coventry, Australia and Vancouver, eventually landing back in County Down late on Saturday night.

Over £8,500 was raised, with the prize draw taking place on the club’s page Facebook at 8pm tonight. Topping the bill is a Celtic shirt signed by most of the famous ‘Lisbon Lions’ – the men who brought the European Cup back to Glasgow in 1967.

That shirt was generously donated to the cause by seven-year-old Oisin Sheehan and his father, Shamrocks clubman and current Down hurling boss Ronan, felt it was a fitting prize for a fundraising effort that harked back to the Bhoys’ earliest days.

“Celtic have a long-established link with the St Vincent de Paul in Glasgow – one of the reasons the club was founded was to support the St Vincent de Paul in the east end of the city,” said Sheehan.

“So it’s appropriate that Celtic’s greatest-ever team is still supporting the same cause more than 50 years on from their greatest victory. That jersey currently hangs in Oisin’s room but he has given it up as a prize.

“When I said to him about giving the jersey away, he simply said ‘that’s why Celtic was founded’.”

On the 12-hour hurlathon, Sheehan added: “It was something a bit different.

“We got our academy families involved, we got [Cork All-Ireland winner] Diarmuid O’Sullivan and [current inter-county referee] Conor Lane involved, reached out to Ciaran Kilkenny and Neil McManus who also sent messages of support to the kids. The kids loved that.

“There were 75 families involved in the actual hurlathon, with videos from Stevie Jennings in Australia, Kieran Courtney in Coventry, his brother Shane’s in Vancouver.

“It went all round the world, then the band Glasnevin - a couple of Scottish musician friends of the club, Conor Kelly and Kieran Davenport - ended the evening by playing sets on Facebook, so everybody was able to log on and enjoy the craic.”

Among the other prizes on offer tonight are a signed jersey from last year’s GAA/GPA Allstars, a signed Kilkenny jersey and a Down retro jersey signed by the three Shamrocks men involved in Down’s 1991 All-Ireland triumph – Collie Burns, DJ Kane and selector John Murphy, who was an All-Ireland winner in 1968 too.

Sheehan has been delighted with the response to the hurlathon, and hopes it can help support some of those organisations who work is vital to the community.

“One of the things that’s probably missed out in all that’s going on is the impact it has on the likes of the Hospice and St Vincent de Paul. A lot of these organisations can’t do their normal fundraising at the minute; they’re struggling.

“For the likes of St Vincent de Paul, chapel isn’t open any more. Usually there are boxes there on a Sunday and people throw in money when they walk past, but that’s not there any more. The unfortunate reality is it’s the likes of St Vincent de Paul and others who will be left to pick up the pieces once we get back to the ‘new normal’.

“There will be financial implications for what we’ve all gone through and it’s St Vincent de Paul and others like them who will be helping to support people then.

“It’s at times of adversity that the GAA really shines through. This was our effort but there’s clubs up and down the country who have done fantastic work and epitomised what the ethos of the Association is all about.

“People just want to help out in any way they can, and it’s great to see.”

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Hurling and camogie