| 9.2°C Belfast

'I'm overwhelmed': Glenavon star Conan Byrne uses coronavirus break to smash target and help fill fundraising gap for Irish Cancer Society

 

Close

Former St Patrick's Athletic stalwart Conan Byrne begged fans to donate and make his sacrifice of donning the Shamrock Rovers hoops worth it.

Former St Patrick's Athletic stalwart Conan Byrne begged fans to donate and make his sacrifice of donning the Shamrock Rovers hoops worth it.

©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Conan Byrne walked 42km (26 miles) to take in all six of Dublin's League of Ireland grounds at the Aviva Stadium.

Conan Byrne walked 42km (26 miles) to take in all six of Dublin's League of Ireland grounds at the Aviva Stadium.

©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Former St Patrick's Athletic stalwart Conan Byrne begged fans to donate and make his sacrifice of donning the Shamrock Rovers hoops worth it.

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 is today walking 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 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, the ICS raises around €4m, a significant portion of the €20m it needs to lift on an annual basis 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 far expectations.

As the 34-year-old passed the half-way point of his walk before 1pm, his GoFundMe tally passed €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, UCD and was due to finish up at the home of the Republic of Ireland national team.

Close

Conan Byrne walked 42km (26 miles) to take in all six of Dublin's League of Ireland grounds at the Aviva Stadium.

Conan Byrne walked 42km (26 miles) to take in all six of Dublin's League of Ireland grounds at the Aviva Stadium.

©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Conan Byrne walked 42km (26 miles) to take in all six of Dublin's League of Ireland grounds at the Aviva Stadium.

 

Due to the social distancing required amidst the covid-19 outbreak, Byrne was doing it all on his own.

"I've had literally hundreds of people wanting to come and do it with me, which would have been great - imagine the support we could have got - but I have to do it by myself," he explained, with car-horns audible in the background.

"People have been beeping as they go past and supporting me but thank goodness everybody is respecting the fact that they all have to stay away from me."

Byrne was wearing the shirts of the six clubs involved as he went - the former St Pat's stalwart begging fans to donate and 'soften the blow' of having to don the Shamrock Rovers hoops - and posted live updates of the walk on social media.

Byrne signed for Glenavon in January and has so far made six appearances for the club, who he was at pains to thank for the permission to undertake his walk.

"Gary (Hamilton - Glenavon manager) was the first person I asked and Glenavon, as my employers, would have been well within their rights to say no because I've been struggling a bit with an injury. That's why I decided to walk rather than running," he said.

"As soon as I asked Gary, he said yes straight away so it's really thanks to him and to Glenavon that I'm able to do this. Huge credit must go to them."

Byrne's GoFundMe page is available by clicking here.

Please log in or register with belfasttelegraph.co.uk for free access to this article.

Already have an account?

Belfast Telegraph