Q Radio Sport
A West Belfast GAA club has beaten the lockdown to complete a charity challenge and visit every county ground in Ireland - virtually.
O'Donovan Rossa members launched the fundraiser for cash-strapped St. John Ambulance in response to the charity's Covid-19 £100,000 appeal.
It has been on the frontline assisting the National Health Service and the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service during the coronavirus crisis, but with donations from cancelled public events wiped out its funds are running low.
Former county hurler and Rossa official Gerard McNally has told Q Radio the club wanted to support the service in its hour of need - to give something back "as they are always there for us on GAA match days."
Using social distancing rules, the Rossa mission was to run, walk or cycle locally and virtually travel the distance to every county GAA ground in Ireland.
It all kicked off from Rossa Park at Shaw's Road on Monday and was due to finish back in Belfast at Casement Park on Sunday - but such has been the success, it'll all now end up in the United States!
Rossa is always ahead of the game, but now we're ahead of our target to virtually visit all 32 county grounds in Ireland to raise funds @SJA_NI Instead of slowing down, we're taking off to traverse the Atlantic & visit @NewYorkGAA Gaelic Pk #rossa34countychallenge pic.twitter.com/Nhank0Sdq2— O'Donovan Rossa GAC (@RossaGACBelfast) May 8, 2020
What a family affair it's been with club members young and old stepping up to the mark to make their contribution to the effort - and get in some extra training at the same time.
Naomhin Love is health and well-being lead at the club. She says the GAA community across the country has been amazing:
The massive effort has been warmly welcomed by St. John Ambulance, with the head of the charity here, Adrian Donaldson, sending a special message:
The club's original target has been surpassed on its JustGiving page with St. John Ambulance netting an invaluable £6,725 - at the time of writing - with more to come.
But Rossa won't be stopping at that.
The club has already added London to its 32 county destinations and the running total has topped the 2,000-mile mark.
Next stop? They're going transatlantic.
Here's Gerard McNally again: "We're going for New York - we've come this far, another 3000-odd miles can't hurt!"
And there was a big surprise all the way from America on Saturday night:
🎥 That escalated quickly. @RossaGACBelfast extend #rossa32countychallenge to @LondainGAA & @NewYorkGAA then go global with this vid from US star #GAA fan @_joshpray— Q Radio News (@qnewsdesk) May 9, 2020
Huge boost for @SJA_NI @SJANI_Northern fight v #COVID19
More https://t.co/boX2EdCtC7 pic.twitter.com/ECpvx9O2CL pic.twitter.com/5LWzWrQnu6
Some of the other highlights on the road to NYC...
Caolán McNally keen to get to St Tiernach's Pk, Clones @Monaghangaa on the last run today of #rossa32countychallenge for @SJA_NI. Let's keep the momentum going #weareRossa 🇺🇦🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/FHEOZX5cyx— O'Donovan Rossa GAC (@RossaGACBelfast) May 5, 2020
Covid-19 frontline staff member and senior dual player Eimear Byrne racking up her distance with a whopping combined run and walk of 22KM! 🏃🏻♀️ that’s why she is a midfielder too!— O'Donovan Rossa GAC (@RossaGACBelfast) May 6, 2020
She is helping us fight this virus everyday and still doing her bit for @SJA_NI 🚑 pic.twitter.com/Tpp1kZJYE7
Tonight during the weekly 8pm clap, we are applauding the fabulous members at @RossaGACBelfast. Doing a fabulous job at raising much needed and vital funds for us. By doing your part through the #rossa32countychallenge you are keeping us on the frontline! 👏👏👏 Thank You! pic.twitter.com/naADErtpu8— St John Ambulance (NI) (@SJA_NI) May 7, 2020
Rocky and Catrina clocking up their daily miles pic.twitter.com/5IwQdtKMzy— O'Donovan Rossa GAC (@RossaGACBelfast) May 8, 2020
The McKinneys are hard at it!!🔥🔥— O'Donovan Rossa GAC (@RossaGACBelfast) May 7, 2020
40k over the past two days!!
Out on the bikes today for 6km each plus a very generous 10k hike up Mournes yesterday 😉
Excellent stuff guys 👏🏻🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/RSenISTwaX