Paddy Barnes on the ball for Nicole Adams' fundraiser
PADDY Barnes has revealed how much he's looking forward to taking part in a charity football match alongside other big name sports stars next year.
The Belfast boxing star is part of an all-star line-up taking part in the game at Seaview on February 9 (5pm), with funds set to go to the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.
Organised by the family of 28-year-old Nicole Adams, who is battling the condition, other stars expected to take part include boxers Carl Frampton and Ryan Burnett as well as NI football legend Keith Gillespie.
Nicole's boyfriend, professional boxer Ciaran McVarnock, confirmed the impressive line-up on Twitter.
He wrote: "Final update! Cystic Fibrosis Team!", and said Frampton would be referee.
"I can't wait," said retired boxer Paddy (32). "I know Nicole and her boyfriend Ciaran through boxing, and they're a really nice couple.
"I'm happy to be taking part in it for a few reasons, of course it'll be good craic but most importantly we'll be raising money and awareness of the condition. It's a win win."
And with Irish League players like Glentoran's Darren Murray, Cliftonville ace Joe Gormley, Glenavon's Andrew Doyle and ex-Linfield goalie Alan Blayney also set to take part, Paddy says he's "not bad" at football himself.
"Well I'll be coming up against some proper Irish League footballers here, so we'll have to see," he said. "But I'm not bad. I played a wee game last week and scored some goals, so I'll be grand. I'm looking forward to it, it's a really good one to be involved in."
Nicole, from Newtownabbey, has been living with cystic fibrosis since childhood, and last week was taken to intensive care.
The dance champion was first taken to hospital last month, where her condition appeared stable until last week when it declined rapidly.
Earlier this week Nicole's older brother Lee explained what happened.
He said: "On Wednesday morning Nicole was feeling brilliant, as if she was making real progress. Then all of a sudden her body took a complete U-turn and the next thing we were in the ICU praying for dear life."
Nicole and her family have been campaigning for access to the pioneering drug Trikafta which they hope can save her life. The medication has been available in the US since October, but has not yet been approved for use on the NHS in NI.
The family have been working to raise the estimated £20,000 cost of one month's supply, and have now paused fundraising as they're close to their target.
The family are now turning their focus to the charity the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, with proceeds from the charity football match set to go there. Talented hairdresser Nicole was diagnosed with the condition at just six weeks old and in 2014 she contracted an airborne disease during a trip to Thailand. Her health has deteriorated since then.
The triple combination therapy drug which Nicole and her family believe could make a huge difference to her health has not yet been approved by NICE, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.
A spokesperson said: "NICE understands the need to provide guidance on the use of Trikafta as quickly as possible and we have already started work on it."
A Health and Social Care Board spokesperson said: "The Board does not have a role in the decision making process for a patient to access a medicine on a compassionate basis."