Northern Ireland news

Spirits high as marathon GAA match heads past hour 12

Suzanne McGonagle
07 January, 2017 01:00

PLAYERS from across Ulster and Ireland are attempting to set a world record on the GAA pitch.

Two teams are going head to head for 24 hours in a bid to stage the longest Gaelic football match in history.

The 'Marathon Match' threw in at Tyrone's Garvaghey GAA Centre near Ballygawley at 11am on Saturday with a pool of 42 players taking part.

Footballers from Tyrone, Derry and Fermanagh will be among those lining out for the record attempt, with players also travelling from as far as Dublin and Kerry.

The event will raise funds for Cancer Focus NI and the Michaela Foundation, set up in memory of Michaela McAreavey who was murdered on her honeymoon in Mauritius in 2011.

Almost £27,000 had already been raised by Friday night.

John McAreavey, who will be among the players taking part, said the response to the match has been "exceptional".

"We're delighted to have the backing of our main event sponsors O’Neill’s and the high calibre players, managers and coaches that are already involved, not to mention the amazing facilities at Gervaghey that Tyrone GAA have so kindly made available to us," he said.

The Michaela Foundation team will be coached by Tyrone manager Mickey Harte, father of the murdered schoolteacher.

He said it would be "an amazing and novel event".

"We've recruited players of all ages from throughout Ireland," he said.

"These players are not expected to play for the full 24 hours - Guinness are allowing each team to use six substitutes as many times as they like throughout the game, therefore each player will be able to recover throughout the attempt whilst also availing of rest breaks that are accumulated for every one hour of activity played.

The public are invited to watch the record attempt, with pitch-side entertainment and free health checks courtesy of Cancer Focus NI available.

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07 January, 2017 01:00 Northern Ireland news