Dundalk players Chris Shields and Patrick Hoban will be among the special guests at a Mental Health in Sport event taking place in McAlester’s Bar on Bridge Street next Thursday December 5th at 7pm.
The fundraiser for Pieta House will also feature retired League of Ireland legend Killian Brennan, former Armagh footballer Aaron Kernan and other special guests with LMFM’s Davi Sheehan acting as MC for the occasion.
The event has been organised by local man Paddy Casey in memory of his brother David who passed away on December 11th 2017 after losing a battle with depression.
He said he hoped the occasion would raise vital funds for Pieta House while also encouraging people to open up about any problems they may be having.
“My oldest brother died from suicide just under two years ago so since then I’ve been doing a bit of work with Pieta House,” explained Paddy, who is a member of the local Darkness Into Light committee.
“Last year on his first anniversary between the end of November and his anniversary on the 11th December we did a bit of fundraising for Pieta House and we want to make that an annual thing. Last year we did a bit of a football event and then a raffle with the usual spot prizes and stuff for auction.
“This year we’re doing a sky dive, myself and 10 mates, in April but we’re raising the money between now and December 11th. That led into the idea behind this event. We have the lease on McAlester’s so the whole mental health in sport idea was brought up by a number of people so we said we’d do that event as well as part of the overall fundraising drive.”
As well as Shields, Hoban, Brennan and Kernan, Paddy is hopeful to have many more big names there with local boxer Amy Broadhurst, jockey Mark Enright and Republic of Ireland U-21 boss Stephen Kenny among a wide list of possible additions to the line-up on the night.
A raffle and auction will also take place with prizes including equipment from STATSports, tickets to a Manchester City game in April, Aer Lingus vouchers and signed sporting memorabilia including an Ireland jersey and donations from Shields and Hoban.
Paddy thanked those who had agreed to take part so far.
“Being a footballer might seem very glamorous but they have the same issues as we all have.
“I think bringing Killian Brennan down will be interesting because anyone who has gone to League of Ireland matches knows he gets absolutely hounded about his sister and other stuff. I know people see it as only a bit of craic but I’m sure that has drove him and his family around the bend. It can’t be nice for his mother and father going to games and hearing that.
“I know he takes it on the chin and gives a bit back but particularly having him there will be interesting because he has probably got more abuse than any player I’ve ever seen in the League of Ireland.
“If the young lads going up to watch Dundalk are struggling and the likes of Pat Hoban can open up about his experiences of going to England and being sent off to the conference on loan and how it effects his confidence then that can only help them.
“I think it’ll be a really good night to be fair and hopefully we’ll earn a couple of bob. There’s about €1,000 in the pot already. I think we raised about €7,000 last year so if we could hit anywhere near that figure again it would be great.”
Paddy said coming up to Christmas was also a particularly apt time to have such an event.
“It’s a tricky time of year. Not just because it’s my brother’s anniversary but the run-up to Christmas is notoriously hard for people who suffer from different things so it was just about getting those lads into a place where they can talk about it.
“It’s not going to be all about mental health. It will be dusted throughout the conversation and then we’ll throw it open to a Q&A so people can ask questions but I think it’s important for those guys because they’re all high profile and it will be nice to hear about their experiences.
“I was only saying to my wife there, if you go down through your list of friends be it on Facebook or on your phone there’s someone there who has been directly affected by suicide.
“We all know people from all walks of life who have suffered from depression but I think a lot of people don’t know how to tackle it which is part of the problem. I think as individuals a lot of people are just terrified to say that there’s something wrong with them which is another battle in itself.”
The event will be recorded on the night and shared on YouTube. Admission is free with donations welcome. McAlester’s have also vowed to donate all profits from the night towards Pieta House.