Northern Ireland news

Teams for longest Gaelic football match in history revealed

John McAreavey, Kieran Kennedy, from O'Neills, Kelley Faye, SINI, Roisin Foster, CEO of Cancer Focus NI, and Tyrone manager Mickey Harte got their torches out at last night's player launch of the 24-hour GAA marathon match to be played on January 7 and 8 at the GAA's Garvaghey Centre in Tyrone, which is hoped to break the Guinness World Record for the longest game of Gaelic football

FROM a pool of 170 applicants, the final teams have been selected to take part in a bid to stage the longest Gaelic football match in history.

Players from across Ulster and Ireland have been lined up for the record attempt, which will see two sets of 21 footballers go head to head for 24 hours.

With local clubs including Errigal Ciaran, Tullylish and Derrynoose represented, as well as players from as far away as Dublin and Kerry, the match will take place on January 7 and 8 at Tyrone GAA's Garvaghey Centre.

The 42 players taking part in the 'Marathon Match' were unveiled last night, with the youngest aged 18 and the oldest 50.

Among those selected are Derry county footballer Emmett McGuckin, former Tyrone player Damian Gormley, and John McAreavey from Co Down, whose wife Michaela was murdered on their honeymoon in Mauritius in 2011.

The event will raise funds for the organisation set up in the schoolteacher's name, the Michaela Foundation, as well as Cancer Focus NI.

Former Derry footballer Ronan Rocks, who survived cancer, is also among those to line out.

The father-of four was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2004 after finding a lump on the side of his neck.

"At that time my team, Loup, had just won the Ulster club title and we were out training three, four nights a week, so I thought I'd just taken a knock," he said.

"I didn't have a clue, but when they mentioned the word cancer, it was a complete shock. I'd just got married, but it felt like our world had just been turned upside down."

Mr Rocks had an operation to remove the lump, but a scan revealed two lumps the size of fists in his chest, which were treated with chemotherapy.

Twelve years on, he has made a full recovery and has spent much of his time raising funds and awareness of the disease.

"I'm always looking for some way to give back, which is why I put my name down to become involved in the Marathon Match," he said.

"To be honest, I thought there will be hundreds of applicants and I'll never get picked. But low and behold I'm on the shortlist.

"I feel it's important to give back after all the help I have received."

Eoin Treanor. from Cancer Focus NI, said the response to the Marathon Match had been "exceptional".

"Over 170 players from across Ireland approached us and we have now whittled that number down to 42 enthusiastic and energetic players, of all ages and abilities, coming from every county in Ulster and as far as Kerry to participate in the world record attempt."

Una Kelly from the Michaela Foundation said: "We’re calling on anyone and everyone to come along during the Marathon Match to cheer on the players, avail of a free health check courtesy of Cancer Focus NI and enjoy pitch-side entertainment for all the family".

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The players selected for the Marathon Match are:

Paul Donaghy (Tyrone), Dan Mac Kavanagh (Antrim), Sean McAvoy (Down), Liam Rafferty (Tyrone), Kevin Anderson (Down), Gregory Devlin (Monaghan), Cian Galligan (Kildare), Pauric McAnenly (Tyrone), Stephen McCann (Tyrone),

Padraic McCarthy (Kerry), Diarmuid McCaughey (Donegal), Shane McKeown (Tyrone), Rory McGrath (Down), Emmett McGuckin (Derry), Aodhan McGuckin (Derry), Eugene Liam McCarroll (Tyrone), Dallan McKenna (Armagh), Niall Mulrine (Tyrone), Ronnie O'Neill (Tyrone), Conor O'Reilly (Derry), Gary Reel (Down), Darragh Begley (Tyrone), Niall Burns (Dublin), Mark Connolly (Down), Francis Downey (Down), Michael Gallagher (Tyrone), Mark Gallagher (Fermanagh), Paul Lavery (Tyrone), Eoin Maguire (Fermanagh).

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