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Ailis Malone pictured with Offaly senior hurling Captain Ben Conneely on a visit to Offaly training before the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ailis Malone pictured with Offaly senior hurling Captain Ben Conneely on a visit to Offaly training before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Offaly hurlers to show their talents for charity


The Offaly senior hurlers may be used to having the spotlight on them but on Saturday June 6, they will be forced out of their comfort zone and come under the spotlight for a different reason.

An online variety show has been organised by the Offaly senior hurling panel in a bid to raise money for two extremely worthwhile charities.

Jigsaw Offaly and Offaly Down Syndrome will be the benefactors and as a variety of acts take to stage for what promises to be a night full of entertainment and laughter.

Players from the senior hurling panel will take part on the night while there will also be performers representing the Under 20 hurling panel along with the senior Camogie panel. Other special appearances on the night will be announced in due course.

Acts will be announced in the lead up to the night and putting them through the ringer will be three judges.

Current Connacht and Ireland Rugby International Ultan Dillane will be joined in the judges’ chair by digital media journalist Lauren Guilfoyle.

The third judge will be announced in due course while there will also be some guests critiques announced in the coming days.

Jigsaw Offaly provides a free and confidential support service for young people in Co. Offaly aged 12 – 25 and their offices are based on Cormac Street in Tullamore. They aim to make sure that young people’s voices are heard, and that they get the right support, where and when they need it.

They have seen a 400 per cent increase in demand for their services since the Covid-19 pandemic hit and have had to suffer the loss of other planned fundraisers. They have long been the official charity partner of Offaly GAA and have had their name on the back of the Offaly jerseys for the past five years.

Down Syndrome Offaly is a parent led support group for families in County Offaly. They advocate for the rights, inclusion, and well being of individuals with Down syndrome. Through parent led advocacy and partnering with like minded organisations, they encourage young people with Down syndrome to develop self determination.

They have also suffered as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic with their annual ‘rock your socks’ fundraiser falling victim. That fundraiser was expected to bring in 15,000 euro and was pencilled in for their home teacher programme and speech and language therapies.

Saturday week will see the event take centre stage with Birr native and Newstalk presenter Will O’Callaghan acting as MC on the night.

People will be able to show their support by voting for their preferred acts on the night and in the lead up to event while donating what they can in the process. Each euro donated will count as a vote. For example, if you donated 20 euro to the act of your choice, they will receive 20 votes.

The event will be broadcast on all official Offaly GAA social media channels and between now and event itself, details of the various acts and guests will be revealed along with how to vote and donate.

On top of the variety show, the senior hurling panel will also hold a sponsored solo run and will solo a ball in relay format from the Jigsaw offices in Kilcormac to the Down Syndrome Offaly offices in Tullamore the following day on June 7.

Eight time All Ireland winner and Offaly senior hurling manager Michael Fennelly is throwing his name in the ring and will be taking part in the variety show and the former All Ireland winning Captain delighted that the panel has thrown themselves into such a venture.

“I made a bit of a deal with some of the younger lads on the panel. A couple of them will be performing ‘all the single ladies’ by Beyonce and in turn I will be turning into Tina Turner for the night.”

“It’s fantastic to see. These are two superb local charities and the players are delighted to be putting their shoulder to the wheel to raise some funds. We are living in tough times but the night should be entertaining and we are hoping the Offaly and wider GAA public row in behind us”.

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