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Tragic cancer boy's idol O'Gara launches tribute golfing event

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Donal Walsh during his appearance on RTE's Saturday Night Show with Brendan O'Connor. Picture courtesy RTE

Donal Walsh during his appearance on RTE's Saturday Night Show with Brendan O'Connor. Picture courtesy RTE

Donal Walsh during his appearance on RTE's Saturday Night Show with Brendan O'Connor. Picture courtesy RTE

RUGBY STAR Ronan O'Gara has thrown his support behind a major fundraising golf tournament in memory of teenager Donal Walsh.

Donal (17), from Blennerville, Co Kerry, inspired the nation and it is in his memory that this golf tournament aims to raise more than €35,000 for Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin.

Yesterday, Ronan joined forces with Donal's parents Elma and Fionnbar Walsh when the event was being launched.

The Kerry Group-sponsored event is this year honouring the memory of Donal Walsh and donating the money to the hospital where he received treatment for cancer.

Donal lost his own battle with lung cancer in May and was buried just one month before his 17th birthday.

He came to national prominence in the months leading up to his death as a passionate campaigner for suicide awareness but also for cancer research and improved facilities at Crumlin.

Before his death, more than €50,000 was raised for the hospital in his name but at his month's mind on June 12, his mother Elma revealed this figure had already doubled.

Since their son's death, the Walsh family are determined to continue to support Donal's charities.

Former Munster star Ronan O'Gara helped shoulder the teenager's coffin at his funeral in Tralee. The Munster outhalf recently signed a two-year coaching contract with Parisienne club, Racing Metro 92 and said he was France bound this weekend.

But yesterday he took time out to help launch the golfing tournament to remember his friend Donal. At the launch of the tournament at Killarney Golf and Fishing Club, Donal's dad Fionnbar revealed a picture of O'Gara already had pride of place in the family home.

"It was a photograph of Ronan and Donal taken when he was only about eight years old in Thomond Park," he said.

The young rugby fanatic had his own dreams of playing for Munster dashed when he first developed a tumour in his femur when he was only 12.

Showing the same grit that continues to inspire others, he didn't give up and became an associate coach with Tralee RFC, training younger players.

The winners of the tournament will be presented with the Donal Walsh Cup, an exact replica of the Ryder Cup.

hnews@herald.ie


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