The Irish football world has united since news emerged last month that Drogheda United striker O’Neill had been diagnosed with testicular cancer. When former Ireland captain Keane learned of the situation while home in Cork, he immediately rang fundraising co-ordinator James Chambers to lodge a donation.
While Keane’s pledge was substantial, understood to be €5,000, the gesture towards the pot by such a respected figure triggered a domino effect. Instead of the €35,000 amount originally forecast to be raised by next month, it is now estimated to soar north of €50,000.
“The medical treatment Gary has to receive for his condition will leave him out of football and his main employment,” explained Stephen McGuinness, PFAI general secretary.
“We established the fund to ease the burden Gary and his family face in meeting that cost, as well as his mortgage repayments.
“We were delighted that Roy Keane decided to donate and he’s spoken to Gary directly in the last few weeks. His involvement has also led to other people becoming interested and we’ve revised the target upwards.”
A plethora of other activities have been arranged to generate income for the 31-year-old. Robbie Keane and Seamus Coleman have supplied signed club jerseys for auction while the entire Ireland panel want to make a collective contribution when they assemble next month.
Another novel event close to being finalised is a charity boxing match between the league’s USA-bound referee Alan Kelly and Shamrock Rovers winger Sean O’Connor.
Kelly, nominated by the PFAI yesterday for Referee of the Year ahead of their awards on November 8, has agreed to a bout with one of the Airtricity League’s most controversial players. Adding spice to the fully regulated contest will be the presence of boxing fanatic Roddy Collins in the middle of the ring as the referee.
Shortlisted for the PFAI Player of the Year gong are two players from title winners St Patrick’s Athletic — Killian Brennan and Greg Bolger — with Dundalk duo Richie Towell and Pat Hoban completing the quartet.
Hoban and Towell are also in the running for the young player of the year accolade.
Greg Bolger, Killian Brennan (both St Patrick’s Athletic), Patrick Hoban, Richie Towell (both Dundalk).
Patrick Hoban (Dundalk), Daryl Horgan (Cork City), Richie Towell (Dundalk).
Philip Gorman (Athlone Town), David O’Sullivan (Longford Town), Aidan Collins (Athlone Town).
Robbie Brady (Hull City), Seamus Coleman (Everton), Wes Hoolahan (Norwich City).
Alan Kelly, Paul McLaughlin, Paul Tuite.
Brendan Clarke (St Patrick’s Athletic), Ger O’Brien (St Patrick’s Athletic), Kenny Browne (St Patrick’s Athletic), Andy Boyle (Dundalk), Ian Bermingham (St Patrick’s Athletic), Killian Brennan (St Patrick’s Athletic), Greg Bolger (St Patrick’s Athletic), Daryl Horgan (Cork City), Richie Towell (Dundalk), Patrick Hoban (Dundalk), Rory Patterson (Derry City).