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'We have been blown away by the generosity of everyone' - Dean Rock gearing up for mammoth charity challenge


Dublin's Dean Rock. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Dublin's Dean Rock. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Dublin's Dean Rock. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

It’s just as well Dubs legend Dean Rock has been keeping up with his training because his fitness levels will be put to the test with his next challenge.

Dean and four of his colleagues will be running 150km in aid of Stewarts Care in a ‘run against the sun’ and he is delighted with the support that the appeal has already gathered.

Among those backing the initiative is the Dublin Ladies Senior football team, who will also be running 150km to raise much needed funds.

Dean’s partner Niamh McEvoy is an All-Ireland-winning star who is back home after enjoying her debut season with Australian Football League women's club Melbourne FC.

Dean told Independent.ie: "On Friday 1 May, myself and my colleagues will run the 150km between us. Stewarts is 150 years old this year, so it’s a challenge we put forward for ourselves.

"We will be starting at sunrise and hopefully finishing before sunset. Obviously we are adhering to social distancing restrictions so only one person can run at any one time. We will be running 30km each."

He said the plan is to run 5km six times each at Stewarts.

"It’s working out you would have to run every two-and-a-half hours to beat the daylight. It will be a challenge.

"The staff have been wonderful because of their commitment to the service users, it’s pretty inspiring," said Dean.

"By us doing an event like this, it’s good for morale and the funds are going towards the purchase of communication devices like iPads and tablets, so our service users of which we have 1,000, that they can communicate with staff, their friends, their family.

"We have some programmes online in terms of learning programmes, physical activity programmes, but not everyone can engage with them at the moment, due to a lack of communication devices. We are going to need those devices.

"We are trying to ensure our service users are in a good frame of mind both mentally and physically during this difficult period.

"We are trying to be innovative with the situation we find ourselves in in terms of setting up online programmes. The more devices we can get out to people in more homes, will mean more service users can get that support which is critical during this period."

He said that while fundraising across the charity sector has been hit because of Covid-19, there have been great examples across the country over the last number of weeks and months in terms of the support of the Irish public.

"We are seeing it with our own campaign, people are really getting behind it.

"We will have lots of participation on the day from different teams to show their support for Stewarts, which is hugely encouraging for everyone across the organisation to know that people are thinking of us during this really difficult time.

Initially the fundraiser had a target of €15,000, but once that was reached, they have now set it at €25,000. "We have been blown away by the generosity of everyone so far. What started off as something small has developed into something quite big."

Meanwhile, the Dubs star told Independent.ie how he is coping with Covid-19 restrictions with club and county training out of bounds for the moment, and no firm date for when the senior inter-county championship will get underway.

"It’s hugely difficult in terms of not having a fixture in place. It is difficult to train by yourself," he commented.

"But everyone is in the same boat at the moment, and it’s just something we have to get on with."

He said ultimately what all players would want is to be given a date to work towards, but clearly this will be guided by the advice from health professionals.

"But hopefully sooner rather than later we will have some sort of date for when we will return."

However, even if fixtures get set in place, it looks like it could be a summer of sport like none we have ever seen before. Mass gatherings of over 5,000 people will not be licensed before September.

"It would be very strange to play those big games in Croke Park in front of 5,000 people. It would be a bit eerie," Dean said.

He said that the Dublin supporters have been brilliant, "and when games get tight, that support is massively important to the group. It would be strange to go out to play in Croke Park in virtually an empty stadium. But look at the end of the day, guys want to get back out and play football as quickly as they can."

To contribute to the Run Against The Sun, click here.

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