Northern Ireland news

More than £15,000 raised in memory of former GAA footballer and referee Paul McKeever

Paul McKeever passed away last November

THE wife of former Antrim footballer and inter-county referee has told of how it is "comforting to know" that £15,000 raised in memory of her late husband will help support others "through such difficult times".

Nicola McKeever said she believed her husband Paul would have been "delighted and totally overwhelmed" by the generosity of people who attended a Gaelic football tournament organised in his honour.

Mr McKeever (39) from Portglenone was remembered at the 'Light Up the Pitch for Paul' event at Roger Casements GAC last month with money raised going towards two charities that helped the family during his illness.

Roger Casements GAC organised the fundraising football tournament, which saw 32 under 10 and under 12 teams from across Ulster compete, including Mr McKeever's sons Ryan and Conor. Six Gaelic referees also officiated at the event.

Mr McKeever died in November just three months after being diagnosed with yolk sac tumour - a rare, malignant tumour of cells that lines the yolk sac of the growing embryo.

Kicking Out: GAA owes it to Paul McKeever to keep lighting up communities

It is most often found in children before the age of two.

A devoted husband and father-of-three, he represented Antrim at both minor and Under-21 level.

He was a member of the ground-breaking Sean Stinson's minor team - an amalgamation between Roger Casements and St Mary's Ahoghill - which won four Antrim minor championships in a row between 1995-1998.

Forced to give up football through injury, he embarked on a successful career as a referee, officiating in the Ulster club championship and at Ulster minor championship games.

GAA Video: Gaelic clubs in floodlight tribute to Portglenone's Paul McKeever

He was deeply involved with Roger Casements GAC, where he served on the committee and coached underage teams.

As well as last month's football tournament in memory of Mr McKeever, there were also other fundraising events held, including collections at the gate to the Casements GAC v Lamh Dhearg senior championship second replay and the replayed O'Cahan Cup Final game.

In total, £15,700 was raised and split equally between the Friends of the Cancer Centre and Cancer Focus NI.

Mrs McKeever said she and her three children were grateful for the support shown.

"On behalf of myself, Ryan, Conor and Erin, I would like to say a huge thankyou to everyone who donated to such wonderful charities in Paul's name," she said.

"He would have been delighted and totally overwhelmed as we are with the support and generosity shown.

"Thanks so much to all those from Roger Casements GAC, Portglenone who worked so hard to organise a great event.

"It is somewhat comforting to know that others can be supported through such difficult times with the money raised."

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