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Tuesday 21 November 2017

Rivals old and young unite to play their part on dreamy day

Elaine Keogh, Conor Kane and Ralph Riegel

FOOTBALL rivalry was replaced by a united spirit yesterday as up to 20,000 people from more than 100 clubs took part in Johnny Giles's Walk of Dreams.

The event, sponsored by 3 and the Irish Independent, included walks in Letterkenny, Sligo, Castlebar, Galway, Ennis, Limerick, Tralee, Cork, Athlone, Thurles, Waterford, Enniscorthy, Dublin and Dundalk.

More than 2,000 people took part in Cork, which started at the city's Institute of Technology at 3pm and finished at the FAI grounds in Bishopstown.

Representatives from football clubs all over the city and county were joined by the Deputy Lord Mayor Kieran McCarthy, FAI vice-president Tony Fitzgerald, former Cork City and Cork GAA star Dave Barry and current Cork City FORFAS players.

In Dundalk, FAI development officer John Crudden said: "Football crosses the divide and unites people; here today there are teams from around the north-east made up of boys, girls and from ethnic groups; it is like a universal language."

Mr Crudden was in Oriel Park in the town where about 850 young players, their coaches and families limbered up to the rhythms of the Drogheda samba band.

They were led by two legends from the golden era of Dundalk football -- Tommy McConville, who played for Dundalk and for Ireland, and former Dundalk manager Jim McLaughlin, who led Dundalk FC to three FAI cups in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

"The children here are the future of football in Ireland. Days like today make people aware that no matter how small their part, they are playing a part and have something to contribute," Mr McLaughlin said.

More than 500 walkers took to the streets of Waterford -- but it wasn't all good news for the man who inspired the event.

The first walker to finish said he'd never even heard of "Gilesy". "I like Drogba and Lampard," said Chelsea diehard Fiachra Knox (8) from Mullinavat, Co Kilkenny.

Irish Independent

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