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38 cancer patients tog out for an epic battle to beat disease

A REMARKABLE football game featuring two teams of former cancer patients aims to inspire all who battle the disease.

County football stars and club players from all over Ireland showed a large crowd in O’Moore Park, Portlaoise, that people can live very active lives when they complete their cancer treatment.

It boosted a nationwide appeal for donations to improve cancer treatment facilities at Saint Luke’s and St James’s Hospitals in Dublin.

A total of 38 GAA players, made up two teams representing the two hospitals, played a full-tilt game of 80 minutes during the May Bank Holiday Monday. The rival teams were managed by GAA legends Mick O’Dwyer and Brian Cody.

John McGrath, a star forward for Wicklow GAA team, captained the St James’s side.

He said: “I was diagnosed with leukaemia in February 2011 but I’m back playing again for Wicklow. All the players in the game wanted to show that people can get back to living a fully active life when they complete their treatments.”

“A positive attitude helped me complete my chemotherapy in St James’s within just three months. Both St James’s and St Luke’s do amazing work to help people get better,” he said.

He urged the public to text the word match’ to 50300 to donate €4 or to log on to www.charitygaamatch.com.

Among the county players who took part were Joe Deane of Cork, Derek Shevlin of Louth, Jason Hughes of Monaghan, Ronan Hamill of Antrim and Marty McGrath of Fermanagh.


One of the 38 players had received news three weeks earlier that his cancer had returned but he went ahead and played the game, said Mr McGrath.

The winners received the Professor Donal Hollywood Memorial Cup, named for a leading oncologist who died of cancer last year, aged 53.

He worked in both St Luke’s and St James’s to save many lives.

The St Luke’s team was captained by Richard Poole, who received treatment for cancer of the salivary glands in both hospitals. Having experienced the tremendous work done by both hospitals, he decided, with the help of Mr McGrath, to organise the fundraising and morale-boosting match.

Broadcasting legend Micheal O Muircheartaigh provided the entertaining commentary for the game.