GAA Football

Donegal players and management cycle to raise funds for 10-month-old Olivia Mulhern

Hugh McFadden of Donegal celebrates his goal against Derry with Paddy McBrearty during the Ulster Senior Football Championship quarter final at Celtic Park. Picture Margaret McLaughlin.
Andy Watters

DONEGAL's legions of fans haven't been able to go and see them play, so the Tir Chonaill players have decided they'll go out and meet the fans tomorrow and in doing so hope to make a real difference to the life of 10-month-old baby girl Olivia ‘Livie' Mulhern.

The Tir Chonaill players and management will set off from points across the county and converge on MacCumhaill Park, Ballybofey (4.30pm) on their ‘Team Donegal 4 Team Livie' fundraiser which is aimed at raising money for little ‘Livie' Mulhern who was recently diagnosed with a serious rare genetic neuromuscular condition called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) and needs urgent surgery in the US, costing over $2,100,000.

The condition affects Livie's brain's ability to send signals to her muscles which prevents her from being able to roll over or move her hands and is a degenerative condition which gradually gets worse over time.

The operation will give her the chance to have a better lifestyle and Donegal midfielder Hugh McFadden says that having the opportunity to make a difference to Livie's life will be “one of the proudest moments of my Donegal career”.

“We decided as a group that we would love to support this,” he said.

“Livie's parents are both from Donegal town and the people of Donegal stand up for each other in times of need and give a helping hand to those who need it. We see Sunday as an opportunity to bring the county together and we're setting off in nine different groups around the county.”

Squad members will set off from Ardara, Bundoran, Clonmany, Downings, Cloughaneely, Gaoth Dobhair, Glencolmcille, Malin and Pettigo and will stop at each of the county's 39 football clubs.

Groups one and two will meet at Naomh Brid and cycle to Four Masters GAA, where they'll meet up with Group three, and continue to MacCumhaill Park. Groups four and five will meet at Fintown and continue to MacCumhaill Park via Glenfin, while groups six and seven will meet at the St Eunan's club and cycle to MacCumhaill Park via St Mary's, Convoy.

Groups eight and nine will meet at Bridgend and continue to MacCumhaill Park via Burt, Naomh Colmcille, Lifford, Robert Emmet's, Castlefin and Red Hugh's GAA. Finally, groups six and seven will meet up with group eight and nine at Mc Clay's Corner, Stranorlar and finish together.

The groups will meet and greet with fans and collect donations along the way and they are aiming to all arrive at MacCumhaill Park at approximately 4.30pm and people can check in with their local clubs for the approximate arrival times at each club.

McFadden is part of group three and will make the 84km trek from Glencolmcille to Ballybofey along with team-mates Paddy McBrearty, Ryan and Eoin McHugh, Andy McClean, Eoghan Ban Gallagher, Aaron Kyles, Brendan McCole and Peadar Mogan and call at Kilcar, Killybegs, Naomh Ultan, St Naul's and Four Masters.

“When we were locked down during Covid and we were having our Zoom meetings we decided that it was about time that we stood up and did something that we really believed in,” said Hugh.

“Because of the huge absence of football from the calendar for a long time we wanted to give back something and make our supporters and the Donegal people proud of this team. If they weren't able to support us at MacCumhaill Park or Croke Park we wanted to find a different way to do it so on Sunday they can go down to their local club to support us as we move around the county.”

Three-time Ulster Championship winner McFadden lined out at midfield for Donegal's success in 2018 and last year. He feels that tomorrow's cycle is at the heart of the GAA community ethos.

“In my opinion this is what the original GAA was set up to do,” said the Killybegs clubman.

“It's there for people to bring them together in community pride and do things for the sake of helping others. If we can make a big impact on the life of Livie it will be one of the proudest moments of my Donegal career.”

To donate to the ‘Donegal 4 team Livie' go to this link: https://www.gofundme.com/f/teamdonegal4teamlivie

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