GAA Football

Sigerson's set to solo Strabane in a grand fundraising gesture

Derry City and Strabane Mayor Michaela Boyle (front), Adrian Loughrey from Koram Centre, Strabane Sigerson's chairperson Liam Sweeney, and Grainne Dunne from Knockavoe School launch the Sigersons Solo Strabane. 

A GRAND gesture is set to get a double meaning with the fundraising challenge Strabane Sigerson’s are carrying out tomorrow (Sunday).

The ‘Sigersons Solo Strabane’ has already raised the initial target of £5,000, prompting the club to generously contribute £1,000 themselves, and they will do so again if the total reaches £10,000.

The beneficaries will be two much-loved local institutions, Knockavoe School and the Koram Centre. Club PRO Eunan Harkin explained the choices: “Knockavoe School is a wee special school here in Strabane; a lot of our members would have had children there or attended it themselves. It’s close to people’s hearts in Strabane.

“The Koram Centre is a mental health provider, offering counselling, therapeutic advice, stuff like that. Like every town, Strabane has its own issues with suicides.

“This event ties in well this year because Michaela Boyle, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane Council, finishes her term on Sunday and one of her charities is the Koram Centre – and she’s a club member of ours.”

The challenge will involve participants soloing between 16 and 20 miles around the town, all done within social distancing guidelines.

“We’ll ask everyone to wear gloves and we’ll be cleaning the ball at different stages, even changing the ball, so that there’s no chance of infection being passed on.

“Prior to this we gave mini footballs to our young people for a wee competition, and we have footballs around the club anyway and gave them out.

“140 people are registered to take part – mostly club members, male and female, but also participants from Knockavoe, people who work in the Koram Centre.”

The route will commence at Knockavoe School and end up outside the Sigerson’s grounds.

“We’re visiting every estate, as many streets as we possibly can within our parish boundaries. We want to bring GAA to the streets, to the people,” said Harkin.

“We’ve broken it down into five areas of the town and have leaders in each area. Whoever has registered, we’re matching their address to each particular leg of the route and we’ve given them a rough time to be at a certain point. We’re looking to have no more than five people in any one spot.

“We’ll have two cars following the solo along the route – a speaker car and another with me in it so I can get out and take photos. We also have a drone for the first and the last legs.

“It’s complex but it’s something to lift people’s spirits and bring GAA back.”

Among the videos of support are messages from Tyrone players Cathal McShane and Niall Sludden, and MMA/ cage fighter James Gallagher, who’s from Strabane.

Harkin hailed the all-round effort so far, saying: “The business community in Strabane have been absolutely brilliant: some business have donated £500, another has given us the lend of a car for the weekend. The people of Strabane have always supported us and once again they’re showing their true colours.”

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