A GLENAVON player has used his mandatory break from work during the coronavirus pandemic to help fill a fundraising gap for a cancer charity.
Conan Byrne yesterday walked a marathon distance around Dublin to take in all six of the city's League of Ireland grounds, finishing up at the Aviva Stadium.
Byrne (34) is a primary school teacher at Rush National School but, unlike in Northern Ireland, all schools in the Republic have already been closed as the country tackles the coronavirus outbreak.
With his football training also cancelled, Byrne has been putting his new-found free time to good use for the Irish Cancer Society. The charity was forced to postpone its biggest fundraiser, Daffodil Day, next Friday.
On that one day alone, it raises around €4m, a significant portion of the €20m it needs annually to provide night nursing service, counselling, free transport for patients to chemotherapy appointments and other vital services to cancer patients.
While he admits his efforts will go only a small percentage of the way to filling that huge gap, Byrne's total has already gone past his expectations.
As the 34-year-old passed the half-way point of his walk before 1pm, his GoFundMe tally hit €9,000 - already over 10 times his original target of €750.
"I'm completely overwhelmed by it all to be honest," he told the Belfast Telegraph. "I got a little bit emotional when it started off and the support started to come in but it's not about one person, it's about the Irish Cancer Society. We all have somebody, a friend or a family member, that has been affected by cancer. I'm just doing something small.
"It only came into my head on Friday night and I really started putting plans into place on Sunday. I set a target of €750 and by Monday morning I had hit that. I put it up to €4,000 but reached that by the end of the next day.
"I just thought after that, whatever we get now is a bonus."
Byrne began his walk at 8am at Shelbourne FC's Tolka Park and went on to take in Bohemians' Dalymount Park, St Patrick's Athletic, Shamrock Rovers, Cabinteely and UCD, and was due to finish up at the home of the Republic of Ireland national team. Due to the social distancing required amid the covid-19 outbreak, Byrne was doing it all on his own.