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Irish fans to play French counterparts and Ballon d'Or winner in charity match for late Irish journalist


Irish fans will get to play against a former European Player of the Year in June when they take on their French counterparts in a charity match for former Irish Times journalist Carl O'Malley, who sadly passed away last year.

The match has been arranged to be played in La Rochelle on June 17 - a day before Ireland's second group game against Belgium.

Thousands of Ireland fans are staying in the seaside town of La Rochelle about 190km from Bordeaux, and YouBoysInGreen.ie (YBIG) have organised a match against the local team - an event that has blossomed into a festival that will no doubt encompass the whole town.

Jean Pierre Papin has also got involved and is expected to dust off the boots and take part in the match while the Irish team are hoping to get a former international on board.

Decorated Papin won six titles in a row during his illustrious career - four for Marseilles from 89-92 and two with AC Milan in 83 and 84 while he also won the European Cup in 84 with the Italian side.

Money raised from the charity day will go towards the Carl O'Malley Trust and Papin's charity, Nine Of Heart.

Papin's daughter, Emily, was diagnosed with serious cerebral lesions in 1996 when she was just eight months old. Jean Pierre and his wife Florence subsequently set up Neuf de Coeur (Heart of Nine) to share their experiences and help other families.

"YBIG.ie is a great community for events like these and when we were drawn to play in Bordeaux I got on to my friend Nicolas Bourdel who owns the General Humbert in La Rochelle," said Ireland fan Tommy Sheilds, who has organised the match.

"The event and match, which will be played in a brilliant little stadium, has certainly gathered momentum. Every match YBIG play is a fundraiser for charity so I decided to put forward the charity for Carl O'Malley, the Irish Times journalist who sadly passed away last year.

"So we will raise money for the Carl O'Malley Children Education Trust and the chosen charity of Jean Pierre Papin. We are also working on getting a former Ireland player to get involved and are close to securing that."

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Irish folk group Catalpa will provide the entertainment post match in what promises to be an enjoyable event for a great cause.

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