Caoimhan McGovern (second from left, back row) made a cameo for Shannon Gaels when the West Cavan club beat Mountnugent by two points in the Junior Championship Quarter Final at the weekend.

Over €40k raised for cancer charities in GAA star’s name

Team photo ‘one to frame’ says friend

More than €40,000 has been raised in support of county footballing star Caoimhan McGovern who’s courageously battling cancer.

The end of the online fundraiser last weekend couldn’t have come at a more poignant time. It coincided with a brave Caoimhan, despite still undergoing treatment, returning to play for the first time since his diagnosis last Summer.

Caoimhan’s diagnosis of Stage 2 Lymphoma cancer back in July is compounded by the fact his father Michael Anthony, and grandmother on his dad’s side, Nora, both died from cancer within months of each other in 2018.

Last Saturday (October 2) the young county star made an impromptu but important cameo when aiding Shannon Gaels to overcome a brave Mountnugent by two points in the Junior Championship quarter final at Emmett Park.

“I think he asked the doctor, and then he was told if he wanted to he could play,” said Declan McLoughlin, who set up the online fundraiser in his friend’s name. “But that’s all Caoimhan needed to hear. He didn’t ask twice. Sure you couldn’t hold him back. Any chance to get back playing football, he’d take it, and he did.”

Remarkably, Caoimhan’s appearance came with little or no training done in recent months. Even without, he moved well, winning a mark and a free, the latter of which proved crucial for the Gaels in putting distance between them and their opponents by the final whistle.

Though Declan was working, he still had his phone close at hand, and was receiving regular updates on both how the club and his friend were getting on.

“He made the impact coming off the bench. I was working, I couldn’t go to the game, but I was getting updates the whole time. I was told there was a very warm reception for [Caoimhan] coming on, both sets of supporters were applauding him, so that’s great to hear.”

The €40,090 raised by the GoFundMe campaign excludes the percentage deducted by the charity fundraising platform as an administration fee, leaving a grand sum of €38,647.36 to be divided between Sligo and Cavan Oncology day wards.

The two charities, chosen by Caoimhan’s mum Chrissie, continue to be of great support to the McGovern family.

“It’s savage going,” remarks Declan.

“You’d imagine that sort of money will go a long way to helping the patients.”

According to Declan, his friend is currently almost halfway through his treatment course.

Declan says: “[The treatment] is working, so that’s the main thing. He got his fifth [treatment] so he’s nearly halfways through. They say [the growth is] getting smaller, so that’s good news. It’s been a tough road, and he’s still got a bit to go, but the bit of football is a good distraction.”

Dozens of the county footballers and Caoimhan’s friends committed to a ‘Shave or Dye’ challenge to raise the €40,000, which saw more than half of that amount raised in just the first three days of the fundraiser being launched. Donations poured in from across the region, as well as the UK, and further afield, with many from within the wider GAA community in Ireland who reached out to support to Caoimhan.

While Declan’s bright pink dyed hair has fizzled back to blonde, there are others on the Shannon Gael’s team who are keeping up their respective look for as long as the West Cavan club remain in the Championship.

“There is a bit of pink left in the roots, it looks awful, but what can you do? It could be worse. The team photo there says it all! There are plenty still keeping it up. They’re either all shaved or all blonde,” Declan laughs, adding that it’ll be “one to frame” in years to come.

“A few are even saying they’re going to keep it up now until the club are out of the championship. It could be a bit of a lucky charm. We weren’t expecting maybe to be doing this well, so if it is a rub they’ll not be changing anything for the time being.”