Inter-county GAA players are set to resume rivalries in support of frontline workers combatting the spread of Covid-19.
A hurler or footballer from each of the 32 counties will take part in an All-Ireland FIFA20 Charity Online Tournament over the May Bank Holiday weekend, with Wexford’s Rory O’Connor, Kilkenny’s Paddy Deegan, and Monaghan’s Conor McCarthy the first competitors announced.
The esports tournament is also embracing the straight knockout structure, with each GAA star randomly allocated a Champions League team they must compete with and 1v1 games whittling the field down before the final on Sunday, May 3.
All money raised will go frontline workers in the HSE and NHS across the island.
The brainchild of disability rights activist and Irish Times columnist Joanne O’Riordan, it will be run in collaboration with the GPA and Insomnia Dublin Gaming Festival. Leading Irish gaming community ‘The Republic of Players’ will also be involved with the delivery of the tournament, managing the live stream of matches and administration of the tournament.
“We want to create an event for people of all ages. We want them to watch the games, enjoy the sport of it, and be part of the experience,” said O’Riordan.
“We want to play our part in promoting and engaging with the terrific community spirit that has been evident during these challenging times and at the same time raise much-needed funds for the ones we love, miss and care for.
“I like many others out there have been in isolation since early March. I miss my friends, I miss the craic attending matches and working in a public setting, but I also miss my nan, who is being cared for in Millstreet Community Hospital.
“I am encouraging everyone to get involved, and I hope we can reach or exceed our target. If everyone could give a little that would amount to a lot.”
GPA CEO Paul Flynn said: “This is a fantastic idea, and the GPA are delighted to be involved. It’s a great way for players to stay connected to each other at this time of isolation while it’s great to be able to raise funds for frontline workers.
“There are many inter-county players, both male and female, among them. To be able to show our support for them in this way is something that we are delighted to be able to do. We are extremely grateful and extremely proud of their efforts”.
You can donate here and you can watch the games, starting Friday, at the Insomnia Dublin Gaming Festival’s Facebook and YouTube pages.
Meanwhile, the same weekend, a group of Croke Park staff will undertake a ’stationary’ cycling challenge to raise much-needed funds for frontline staff in the Mater Hospital.
The group will attempt to cover 630km - the distance from Malin Head to Mizen Head - within 24 hours using their turbo trainers and bike computers from the safety of their own homes.
The eight cyclists, Alan Milton, Cian Murphy, Kevin Leahy, Kevin Sexton, David Sweeney, David Power, Paul O'Donovan, and Director General Tom Ryan, are being challenged to complete 26km in each of their three separate hour-long stints.