Chicago footballers remember lost friends with breast cancer awareness fundraiser
By John Harrington
When at their best, GAA clubs are as much about community spirit and fun as they are sporting endeavour.
That’s perhaps especially true for clubs located outside of Ireland where they provide a home away from home and the sort of environment where lasting friendships can form.
Fun and friendship were certainly top of the agenda on September 25 in Chicago Gaelic Park for the annual Broomsticks and Boobs Ladies Gaelic Football Tournament hosted by Erin’s Rovers Ladies Gaelic Football club.
The event remembers two friends lost, former Erins Rovers player Donna Doyle O’Doherty and former Aishling Gaels players Annette Reilly Coen, who both passed away from cancer.
O’Doherty passed away in 1999, but her friends have kept her memory very much alive by setting up the Donna Doyle O’Doherty charitable fund.
It’s a fitting tribute, because Donna herself started the Rovers tradition of fundraising for worthy causes by designing and selling tshirts over 25 years ago that raised money for Rush Hospital’s Women’s Cancer Research Center.
Since her passing, the fund in her name has done a variety of good deeds, such as obtaining bicycles for special needs children, supporting women in abusive situations, providing meals for families in need, and supporting many other local benefits.
As you might have guessed, all funds raised by the annual Broomsticks and Boobs Ladies Gaelic Football Tournament goes to breast cancer research, and the day is as much about good fun as it is a good cause.
Master of ceremonies was Chicago GAA Games Development Administrator, Colm Egan, who embraced the mood of the day by refereeing matches in a very fetching tutu!
“It was a very cool event, we did the whole thing in fancy dress,” he told GAA.ie.
“There was an Under 35s section and an over 35s section. In the over 35s section you could have three boys on your squad as long as they were dressed in drag.
“The other cool thing this year, some of our youth programme graduates who are boys got the opportunity to play with their moms in this tournament. So it was great fun to have 19/20 year old lads playing a match with their moms on the same team.
“I refereed the whole thing in a tutu and it was just great craic. We had 140 women in the one place so we had information for breast cancer screening and sign-ups for mammograms.
“We tried to drum up the charity side of it, we had an entry fee and there were t-shirts for sale and things like that to raise some money for the Donna fund.
“It was just a really fun, inclusive day which is what the GAA is all about here in Chicago.”