Tullamore footballer Paul McConway taking part in the Tullamore GAA/LGFA/Camogie relay marathon in aid of the late Paddy Fenning’s MND and Offaly homeless fundraiser. He’s cheered on by Paddy’s wife Kathryn and family as he passes the Fenning home on the Clara Road, Tullamore. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie.

Tullamore clubs raise over €8,000 for Paddy Fenning MND campaign

Tullamore GAA, Camogie and Ladies Football clubs raised in excess of €8,000 for motor neurone disease and homeless causes through a relay marathon last weekend.

The initiative was the brainchild of Tullamore senior football manager Niall Stack and a number of his players, who wanted to put their weight behind club legend and two-time All-Ireland winner Paddy Fenning’s last fundraising campaign, which he set in motion before his passing from motor neurone disease in May of last year.

With the Tullamore hurling, camogie and ladies football teams subsequently coming on board, momentum swelled behind the relay marathon, which had over 180 participants over the course of last Friday, Saturday and Sunday. In tandem with this running activity, a highly effective social media campaign, coordinated by Tullamore GAA PRO Aoife Marron, helped to drive donations online.

At the time of writing, a total of €27,364 has been raised through the website, with the relay marathon breaking the €90,000 mark for the entire Paddy Fenning Walk campaign. Click HERE if you wish to donate.

There were 22 teams of eight runners, with club stalwarts as far away as Australia and America taking part, while the Castletown GAA under-13s in Wexford even got involved owing to a link with Tullamore native Mick McGuire, a former teammate of Paddy Fenning’s who now lives in the south-east.

Each individual was required to complete 5.3km each to make up the marathon distance of 42.2km. A number of others also took part in an individual capacity.

Team 6 were the winners of the event, coming in with a cumulative time of 3:10:12, followed by the senior football management on 3:12:10, with Team 11 in third place on 3:13:18 - see below for the names of those on the top three teams.

Many of the participants passed Paddy Fenning’s family home on the Clara Road while completing their run over the weekend, with recently-crowned Press Photographer of the Year James Crombie capturing long-serving Tullamore senior footballer and former Offaly captain Paul McConway as he was cheered on by Paddy’s wife Kathryn and family during his leg of the marathon.

The Paddy Fenning Walk for IMNDA and Offaly Homeless was launched before a huge gathering at the Tullamore Court Hotel in February of last year with the target of raising €150,000, to be split between motor neurone disease research and support services as well as local homeless causes.

The campaign was due to culminate in a walk along the banks of the Grand Canal in Tullamore last June but had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 crisis. It will be rescheduled for later in the year, once it is safe to do so.

Over 1,000 sponsorship cards have been distributed with a number of top prizes on offer, with the campaign’s website also accepting contributions separately.

Organising committee chairman Joe Stewart was fulsome in his praise of the three clubs for lighting a spark under the project again.

He commented: “Paddy would have been extremely proud of the efforts from the Tullamore men's and ladies footballers, hurlers and camogie players and all of those that they brought with them to participate in last weekend’s event.

On behalf of the committee, Joe sincerely thanked the organisers, participants and everyone "who donated so generously to this cause in honour of Paddy".

“It’s been a real shot in the arm for the fundraiser at a time when collecting money is extremely difficult for obvious reasons.

"We look forward to rebooting the fundraiser once Government restrictions are lifted and staging the walk later in the year. In the meantime, we will continue to accept donations through our website, paddyfenningwalk.com.”

Relay Marathon Top 3

First Place: Team 6 - Laura Miles, Kevin O’Brien, Nigel Bracken, Aaron Leavy, Peter Fox, Ciarán Egan, Orla Gorman, Niamh McCormack.

Second Place: Team 4 (Senior Football Management) - Niall Stack, Gary Heffernan, James Keane, James Buckley, Peter Martin, Justin O’Brien, Gavin Sheil, Alan Martin.

Third Place: Team 11 - Mark Conlon, Shane Enright, Keelan Galvin, Paul O’Toole, Kevin Williamson, Chloe Harte, Jack Dooley, Sorcha Coleman.

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