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Belfast Giants ace Long is game for eSports war to raise funds



Worthy cause: Belfast Giant Ciaran Long is out to boost proceeds for virus battle

Worthy cause: Belfast Giant Ciaran Long is out to boost proceeds for virus battle

William Cherry/Presseye

Worthy cause: Belfast Giant Ciaran Long is out to boost proceeds for virus battle

With plenty of time on their hands, given they're not exactly going anywhere right now, sports players and fans have turned to other avenues of entertainment.

One of the most popular has been eSports, the online sports world which is fast growing in popularity as the only way for fans to get any kind of live sporting action during lockdown.

The Premier League recently announced that they're starting up an eSports league, Major League Baseball in the USA have already started one up, while Graeme McDowell faced Ryder Cup team-mate Justin Rose in a virtual round of golf at Pebble Beach on Tuesday night.

But while those are simply for fun, Belfast Giants forward Ciaran Long is turning it into a way to raise money for the NHS, combining his love for gaming with the opportunity to do something to help the Covid-19 crisis.

"Me and my brother have been gaming a lot of the days away. Then we've been watching the news and seeing the NHS and what they're doing, and what they were doing before this anyway, we thought why not try and raise some money?" explains Long, who is still in Northern Ireland with girlfriend Hannah.

The plan is for the Giants ace and his brother, Shannon, to play Call of Duty: Warzone for 12 straight hours from 8.00am to 8.00pm on April 30, with fans able to tune in via Long's Twitch stream and to donate using his Just Giving page.

The idea was Long's, who has recently begun streaming on Twitch, and quickly Shannon was on board too. Having played for the Giants last season, and been one of the players who bought into the community aspect of what the team is about, the Birmingham native was keen to help out however he could.

"This was just something I wanted to do. My auntie was a nurse but she's retired now. But she does still help out here and there," says Long.

"This is just for all they do. I've seen them help out a lot of Giants fans, such as Blake (McCaughey) who's just out of the hospital after a horrible eleven-and-a-half months.

"It's a little thing I can do and hopefully it'll make a bit of a difference."

It won't just be the Long brothers involved, however, with Ciaran using his hockey contacts to get some friends to join them throughout the challenge.

Giants team-mates Ryan Lowney and Shane Owen are signed up for the final leg of the challenge, while the likes of NHL prospect Liam Kirk and Long's former Manchester Storm team-mate Declan Balmer are also in.

The Long brothers and the two players that are on with them will form a team of four, with the additional two players rotating roughly every two-and-a-half hours.

"Shane, Ryan and I talked about a serious amount of gaming. They're big Fornite guys. And I know they've been playing most days. They were the ones who pushed me towards getting Warzone, keeping me updated on the stuff coming out," says Long.

"I've never even met Liam Stewart, I've only played against him! David Clements has mentioned he's a big gamer. They're all big gamers, but whether they've played this new Warzone is a different story.

"It'd be nice to hit the £500 mark, and anything more than that would be amazing. We just want to raise as much as we can."

Fans can donate to Long's fundraiser by going to justgiving.com/fundraising/ciaranlong. The stream will be live on Long's Twitch account, which can be accessed at twitch.tv/stringers89.

PLAYER SCHEDULE: 08:00-10:30: Owen Griffiths, Mac Howlett; 10:30-12:30: Liam Kirk, Josh Waller; 12:30-15:00: Liam Stewart, David Clements; 15:00-17:30: Declan Balmer, Jordan Cownie; 17:30-20:00: Shane Owen, Ryan Lowney

• The Elite League have announced the re-scheduling of their Magic 5 Weekend and Play-Off Finals Weekend due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Magic 5 Weekend, which was scheduled to open the season, has been pushed back to October 3/4, while the Finals Weekend has also been moved from its traditional second weekend in April slot to April 24/25.

Belfast Telegraph