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Kingspan Stadium set for Anto Finnegan's fundraiser

By Declan Bogue

History is set to be made soon at Kingspan Stadium, Ravenhill, when the first major Gaelic football match will take place at the home of Ulster Rugby.

Ulster Rugby and the Ulster Council of the GAA have come together to host the game in aid of Motor Neurone Disease (MND) with the event being spearheaded by Anto Finnegan, the former Antrim GAA Captain, who, following his MND diagnosis, has been committed to building awareness and financial support for this degenerative disease.

A launch is planned at the stadium tomorrow, and those due to attend include 2013 All-Ireland winning Dublin manager Jim Gavin, along with other leading GAA players lending support to the cause.

Ulster Rugby representatives and figures will be in attendance when details of the two teams and the match will be announced. Others attending include President of the GAA, Liam O'Neill, and the Chief Executive of Ulster Rugby, Shane Logan, as well as political stakeholders.

Details of this venture first surfaced in late 2013 when Finnegan, who played for his county from 1994 to 2005, revealed details of the awareness-raiser for his trust 'deterMND'.

Finnegan explained back then: "Ideally the game would have been staged at Casement Park, but with the redevelopment taking place there and the pitch unavailable, we were keen to keep the event in Belfast.

"Ulster Rugby are very keen to make the event happen, and so is the GAA in Antrim and Ulster, and it's a really unique opportunity to stage a GAA match at Ravenhill."

Finnegan explained further about the motivations to highlight Motor Neurone Disease, saying: "Both my wife and myself are determined to take some positives out of this negative thing that has entered our lives.

"You can go one of two ways –you can go home and live in a bubble, or you can use the background that you have in sport to try and raise awareness of the illness and generate funding for research."

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