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Owen Roes Launch “Sunset Challenge”

Sunday 26.04.2020
Team Talk Mag


In early March the various coaches of Owen Roes were busy on the training pitch readying the various teams for the Club’s 50th anniversary season. No doubt all the players and coaches had ambitions to mark the 50th year of the Leckpatrick Club with silverware. However events off the field have cast a shadow on the season for Owen Roes and indeed sporting clubs throughout the country.

Nonetheless the Gaels of Owen Roes are seeking to cast some light on those shadows with their sunrise to sunset challenge which takes place next Saturday 2nd May.

Club Captain Stephen Kelly explains the thought process behind the North Tyrone Club’s fundraiser.“I suppose there were a few things that fed into the idea. First up we wanted to do something positive for the community. The last month or so has seen the better side of our communities come to the fore from the fantastic efforts of our health and care workers, to other professions battling on to ensure services continue, to local community groups, including GAA clubs, making sure those that need helped are looked after. One of the buzz phrases that we’ve heard is ‘we are all in this together’ and I suppose us players wanted to play our part in that too.”

“The second strand is that doing a 5K ensures that we footballers stay in some sort of condition. Most of us are out doing our own work anyway, even with no football on the horizon, but this gives a wee gee up to some of the other lads as well. When you start to talk about 5Ks and times etc that competitive spirit comes to the fore and it gets lads up an out. It also gets the craic going.”

“That ties in with the third part of the event then and that’s the mental health part. Everyone is experiencing various levels of anxiety and difficulties. This gives us a focal point to concentrate on and keeps the squad tight. We’ve a great team spirit throughout the Club anyway, so this just keeps that going even and helps morale in the most challenging of times.”

The sunrise to sunset challenge takes place in Moorlough, which is located a mile from Owen Roes’ Pairc an Ghleanna pitch, commencing as sun comes up at 5:46am and will continue in laps until 9:07pm that evening. Club chairperson Sarah Jane Kelly adds, “The plan is for around 40 odd players to take it in turns to do 3 x laps of the lough which is 5km in length in total. One of the major stipulations is that we are ensuring that social distancing is being strictly adhered to. For example there is no baton, or cross over between runners. When runner A finishes, runner B will start a few metres further along the route, and when runners complete their slot, they go home.

“Most of the lads would be running the roads, or around the lough 3 or more times a week anyway, so it’s adding a bit of structure to what they are already doing. Our facilities, like others, are closed at present, so the lads have taken to road running etc to try and say in shape.”

County star Cathal McShane is also playing his part in the fundraiser despite being injured at the minute. The North Tyrone man cannot partake in the run but has donated the jersey that he wore in the 2018 All Ireland senior final, and the boots that he wore in that final, to aid the Club’s fund raising initiative with every tenner sponsored equating to one entry in to a draw which will take place in the days post the run.

When asked about targets, Stephen stated “Our initial target was to raise £2000, but we hope now to go past that. Lots of people have their own problems financially at the minute so we’re very grateful and humbled for every donation we receive. We’ve earmarked 5 local charities that are close to our hearts in various capacities, or who’ve been an important local asset during these trying times and they are Strabane Foodbank, Covid wards in Altnagelvin, AWARE NI, Dennet Interchange meals on wheels and speech and language therapy in Altnagelvin”.

There is still a lot of uncertainty about the 2020 season for sporting bodies throughout Ireland, but at Owen Roes they are trying to ensure that some positivity comes out of the situation that they find themselves in. Anyone wishing to sponsor the runners can so via and search for Owen Roes or there are more details on the club’s Facebook page.


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