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Tuesday 23 September 2014

Donal Walsh set for tribute in People of the Year award 

Published 14/09/2013 | 06:26

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Donal Walsh

INSPIRATIONAL Donal Walsh is tipped to receive a Rehab People of the Year award posthumously tonight. 

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Donal (17) lost his battle with lung cancer on May 12 but achieved national prominence after he won a Radio Kerry /Kerry's Eye Local Hero award.

Though battling a terminal illness, he used his remaining weeks to highlight the issue of suicide among his peers. He also wrote and spoke movingly of being a cancer patient and the lack of facilities for children and teens at Crumlin Children's Hospital.

He was nominated for the People of the Year Awards, hosted by Grainne Seoige, just two weeks after his death by Radio Kerry and also by South Kerry Coroner Terence Casey, who has credited him with having a huge influence in cutting teen suicides.

Yesterday, his dad Fionnbar completed a charity cycle his son had done only a year ago to raise money for cancer research.

Mr Walsh led the Cross Rugby Legends from Killarney to Moll's Gap in Co Kerry, part of their Malin to Mizen cycle dedicated to Donal's memory.

Donal completed the trip last year with a prosthetic knee and as he was recovering from having part of his lung removed.

He was diagnosed with terminal cancer only six weeks later.

Mr Walsh and a group of 100 supporters set out from Tralee Rugby Club at 8am on the 110km trek. They stopped outside his home in Blennerville, where a minute's silence was observed before cycling on to Killarney to join up with Cross Rugby Legends.

"We took the same route as Donal did so that was a bit emotional," said Mr Walsh.   "That last 1km coming up Moll's Gap took the biscuit but I think Donal was on my shoulder.

"That was the deal, get up to Moll's Gap on it and do the same trip he did last year."  Rugby legend Mick Galwey, who completed the seven-day cycle from Malin to Mizen, said returning to Tralee and the reception they received at Donal's old school, CBS The Green, made it really special.

"Last year, we met Donal here at this very spot...he was recovering from surgery at the time and we thought it was incredibly brave of him.

"Little did we think that 12 months later he wouldn't be here with us. It's a huge testimony to him the number of people who turned up here to take part in the cycle," Mr Galwey said.

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