11 May 2012 No Comments by The Northern Standard

‘Talk Sport for Shauna’ entertained, informed and
enthralled the sizeable crowd at the Hillgrove Hotel
last Saturday night. by COLM SHAVLEY

‘Talk Sport for Shauna’ – a fundraiser for Shauna McPhillips, a six-year-old girl from Scotstown who suffers from the rare neurological disorder, Rett Syndrome, which means she requires round-the-clock care – was a great success.
Peadar McMahon of the organising committee was keen to stress that, as well as the few hundred-odd people who attended; many more had also bought tickets to show their support for a very worthy cause. Also on the night, there was a very well-supported raffle and an auction, expertly handled by Peadar himself, which raised almost €2,000 in total.
Items in the auction included a Monaghan jersey signed by the county senior footballers, a Dublin jersey signed by Alan and Bernard Brogan, a hoodie signed by Monaghan Stages Rally winner Daniel McKenna, a Republic of Ireland soccer jersey signed by the squad, a Leinster jersey signed by the Heineken Cup champions and All-Ireland football final tickets and accommodation, which was the highest-earning item of the night.
The first half of the event consisted of Monaghan native Gráinne McElwain (whose father Séamus acted as MC for the night) interviewing local sports stars.
Gráinne, who is well-known for her work with TG4, did a fine job speaking to the likes of three-time football All-Star Eugene ‘Nudie’ Hughes, Gordon West Cup-winning Monaghan Rugby Club captain Marc McArdle, Armagh football captain Ciarán McKeever and the two most recent captains of the Monaghan senior football team, Darren Hughes and Dick Clerkin.
The interviews with the Monaghan football duo were particularly revealing, as they discussed the county’s relegation in the National Football League and their prospects for the championship.
Clerkin admitted the league campaign had been very disappointing, but he pointed to the changes in manager and personnel in the last 18 months and said that the Farney men were in transition.
Clerkin and his successor as skipper, Hughes, agreed that Monaghan had been unlucky to come out on the wrong side of a few close games. Hughes, who brought along the Railway Cup and spoke of his hope that the interprovincial competition continues, highlighted the absences of Conor McManus and Tommy Freeman for chunks of the season as a blight on Monaghan’s efforts.
When asked by McElwain about the biggest challenge facing the GAA, Currin man Clerkin was in no doubt that it is achieving a balance between club and county fixtures, saying that 50% of county teams will have three or less championship matches. Clerkin appealed for the backing of the county in the championship, saying that Monaghan have “a very capable panel … with high hopes”.

After a short interval, the second half began, with RTÉ commentator Marty Morrissey chairing a panel which consisted of Gaelic games analysts and ex-players Joe Brolly and Jarlath Burns, local rally star Niall Maguire, FAI Chief Executive John Delaney and former Irish rugby international Mick Quinn, who now heads up the IRFU’s charitable trust, which looks after paralysed players.
Representing a range of sports and backgrounds, the panel was hugely entertaining. Some of the stories told wouldn’t be suitable for a family publication, but they had the audience in convulsions of laugher.
Brolly and Burns shared anecdotes of their time in Gaelic football, while Quinn, who has relations in Castleblayney, regaled the crowd with tales of his career with Ireland.
Delaney looked ahead to next month’s European Championships, while also telling Roy Keane to “move on” and “get over it” when asked by Morrissey about Keane’s latest comments on the never-ending 2002 Saipan saga.
Modest Ballinode man Maguire also more than held his own among high-profile company, talking about his long career in motorsport.
Ard-Stiúrthóir Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Páraic Duffy, who is a patron of Rett Syndrome Ireland, also addressed the crowd and thanked all involved, as did Peadar McMahon on behalf of the organising committee, which also included Gerard Sherry, Séamus McQuillan, Liam Stirrat and Shauna’s father Declan, with the support of many local sporting bodies.

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