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Fran's friends do him proud

FRAN LEONARD was a fine footballer. And a first-class athlete.

In November 2006, he was playing for Erin's Isle against O'Dwyer's in Division 4 of the AFL.

Just 50 minutes into the match, Fran collapsed and died. It was a case of sudden adult death.

Each year, Isle's and O'Dwyer's come together to honour his memory in the Fran Leonard Memorial Day.

They play two matches -- one at U10 level and the other involving the sides that played on that sad day six years ago.

Fran's Dad, Greg, was the secretary of Isle's during the golden era of the footballers. Days when Isle's reaching the county final came as naturally as pouring out the milk on the corn-flakes.

Greg remembers the period well. Finglas swelled with pride. The parish was on the map.

Deego, the Barrs, Charlie, Ciaran O'Hare ... the names go on. And today they are still friends, looking out to help each other in any way they can.

Greg and his wife, Elsa, are strong supporters of CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young). They have been involved in several fund-raising drives.

CRY love to see people embrace and enjoy their sport. Their message is for people to get themselves screened.

CRY don't receive any direct funding. They depend on the generosity of the public.

Damien Collins is one such figure. He was a club-mate and friend of Fran. Now he's on the management of the Isle's senior hurlers.


He decided to run the Dublin City Marathon in aid of CRY. It wasn't easy. Wife, Siobhan, and son, Dylan, kept on hiding the carpet slippers and leaving his runners in the hall!

Damien did the hard miles of preparation, and on the big day he came through the tape like Yifter the Shifter.

He presented the proceeds from his run to CRY Ireland chairman, Michael Greene, at Fran's Memorial Day. It was Michael's first time to visit Farnham Drive.

He left with fond memories. It was the warmth of the people that impressed him most.

"Without the support of those like Damien, Greg, Elsa and indeed clubs like Erin's Isle, we would not be able to maintain our services to the wider community and continue to save lives as a result," stated Michael.

He added: "CRY was set up to help patients and their families. For fund-raising, we are completely dependent on ordinary people doing extraordinary things."

For the way in which he lived his life, Fran Leonard was always the pride of the parish.

He was a role model.

And his inspirational legacy lives on.

For more details on the work of CRY, log onto www.cry.ie