Tuesday 23 July 2019

Dylan (16) trains with Irish squad

Brave teenager spends day with Mick and players

Dylan Lynch with Ireland player Shane Long
Dylan Lynch with Ireland player Shane Long
Dylan Lynch with his mam Cathy, Mick McCarthy and Shay Kinsella of the Share-a-Dream Foundation

Simon Bourke

A football-mad Rathnew teenager has fulfilled a lifetime dream by training with the Irish squad at their headquarters in Dublin.

Dylan Lynch (16) has been battling cancer since 2013 and, in recognition of his bravery, was given the opportunity to meet up with Mick McCarthy and the players ahead of their recent European Championship qualifiers.

Prior to his illness, Dylan had been a keen goalkeeper and so it was no surprise when he made a beeline for goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly upon his arrival.

'Alan Kelly was there before the rest of the team so he did some goalkeeping work with Dylan,' explained Dylan's mam Cathy. 'He met with all the goalkeepers, including Darren Randolph, who is his favourite player. Mick McCarthy came over and discussed the weekend's game with him. And Shane Long was lovely - he'd previously sent Dylan stuff while he was in Crumlin Hospital.'

Diagnosed with cancer at the age of ten, Dylan endured three years of gruelling treatment to help combat the illness, suffering horrendous side-effects which resulted in brain damage and central nervous damage. Then, just two months after finishing treatment, he relapsed in January 2017.

After nine months in Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin, Dylan was discharged to begin rehabilitation in the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire.

Unable to walk at the time, he underwent a series of intensive therapies before suffering a setback in August of last year when he developed shingles and had to spend a week back in hospital on high doses of anti-viral medication.

Having missed much of second year and all of third year, Dylan is now back in school at Coláiste Chill Mhantáin.

Although he still suffers with his mobility and has cognitive issues, his recovery led to him being awarded a National Children of Courage Award at the Share-a-Dream Ball last November.

He then received further recognition at the Wicklow Garda Youth Awards in March, winning a Special Achievement Award for his inspirational fightback from illness.

The Share a Dream Foundation were instrumental in organising Dylan's trip to the National Sports Campus, contacting the Irish team and arranging a day which the youngster will never forget.

'We could not be prouder of him. Dylan would not be where he is today if it were not for his strong will, determination and positivity,' according to his mam Cathy. 'It was a fantastic day, he was blown away by the experience.'

But having exchanged tactical tips with Mick before the Denmark game, Dylan missed most of the big match; the small matter of a family holiday to Lanzarote meaning he spent the majority of the game in the air anxiously waiting to hear news of the result.

Wicklow People