JOHN MCCONNELL PAID ‘the GAA family’ his gratitude after a fundraiser for his brother Owen took place in Ardara tonight.
McConnell admitted his family have been blown away by the support offered for Owen, who watched the meeting of a Donegal select and Ulster champions Gaoth Dobhair on Facebook live from New York.
Photo caption: John McConnell of Ardara GAA club with Donegal senior team manager Declan Bonner. Photo Geraldine Diver
‘A Game For Owen’ was organised to raise money for the a father of four living in New York who was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung, lymph node and bone cancer. A huge crowd was in attendance despite the wind and rain to see Gaoth Dobhair come through on top in an entertaining encounter on a 4-7 to 1-12 scoreline.
“It was a very emotional day for us as a family and to see the response – not only tonight but since Owen took sick – with the fundraising has been unbelievable,” John McConnell said afterwards. “Our own family is obviously the most important thing but the GAA family comes a very close second.
You can pledge a donation to the Owen McConnell Fund here
“When the chips are down they are the first to rally around you and today was no exception. We’re delighted with how things have turned out. It took a lot of organising but we did very little.
“The family weren’t directly involved and it was a group of friends of ours’ and of Owen’s – the likes of Brendan Bradas O’Donnell and Martin McHugh as well as the club officers here, as well as friends of ours’ really pulled the whole thing together. We’re so grateful to them for doing this.
“There are so many people supporting him and since he got sick the amount of people who have supported his is phenomenal. We really are so grateful – not just from Ardara, from the GAA family. There’s people here tonight that I haven’t seen in years. We have had one of the biggest crowds in here tonight we ever had – maybe between 1,000 and 1500. It’s hard to fathom.”
Owen McConnell and his wife Joanne and children Finian, Mia, Roma and Kyia
John McConnell, a former Donegal GAA County Secretary, was ‘over and back to the US in the 1980s’ before his brother made the move permanent in 1999. Owen lives in Mahopac, New York with his wife Joanne (also Ardara) and children Finian (12), Mia (11) Roma (8) and Kyia (6).
“It gives Owen not only the financial aspect but the psychological boost it has given Owen, who was able to watch the match live from New York on the Ardara Facebook page,” John McConnell added.
“Owen’s not too bad. He’s on a cancer tablet treatment. He had a scan one month after starting to take the tablets and the scan showed that it hadn’t got any worse. That was positive enough. He’s going to have another scan now in February and that will tell more of a tale and whether the treatment is working. We’re all rooting for him and he’s very positive.”