UL medical student’s ‘garden hurling marathon’ raises €62,616

UL medical student’s ‘garden hurling marathon’ raises €62,616


Of the many fundraisers organised in aid of the Mid-West’s healthcare frontline during the Covid-19 pandemic, perhaps the most remarkable is the ‘Garden Hurling Marathon’ run by Mayo hurler and University of Limerick medical student Cathal Freeman, who raised a whopping €62,616 for University Hospital Limerick and the Mid-West Cancer Society.

Cathal, a second year student at the university’s Graduate Entry Medical School (GEMS), helped by his housemates and girlfriend—GEMS students Sean Flannery, Aisling Dungan and Julie Nicholson—staked out a 30m circuit on a patch of grass close to their home on the UL campus, and completed an extraordinary 1,400 laps of the course… soloing a sliotar all the way.

Mayo GAA streamed the marathon effort on Facebook, and a number of commentators, including friends and associates as well as professional pundits Liam Horan and Mike Finnerty, kept the virtual audience entertained throughout the six and a half hours of Cathal’s marathon feat.

“People have been so generous, but I can’t believe the response,” Cathal said of the final total raised. “At the very beginning, €1,000 was the goal, and it has just grown legs. It’s difficult to believe that it has reached more than €62,500.”

Professor Paul Burke, Vice Dean of Health Sciences at University of Limerick and also the Chief Academic Officer of UL Hospitals Group, hooked up with Cathal via Zoom to express his appreciation for the extraordinary fundraising effort.

“At a time like this, a time of social distancing, when the limits of our physical world have had to shrink to keep us all safe, what Cathal has achieved is truly exceptional. He is a credit to himself, his family, to his hurling club, Tooreen in Mayo, and to his medical school,” Prof Burke said.

For Cathal, the main focus is on the organisations that will benefit from his fundraiser: “Both the Irish Cancer Society and University Hospital Limerick do amazing work, and it’s been my privilege to help them out, and the level of donations shows the depth of appreciation that the people of this country have for those organisations. I’m absolutely delighted with how it turned out, and even though I may have dropped the sliotar on one or two occasions, if nothing else is achieved, perhaps now people will be less inclined to say that there is no hurling in Mayo!”

Cathal Freeman’s ‘Garden Hurling Marathon’ is but one of a huge number of donations given and fundraisers organised on behalf of the frontline healthcare staff working in the six sites of UL Hospitals Group during the on-going public health emergency. Donations and offers have included funds, PPE gear, beverages, full meals, snacks, treats and sweets, technical equipment, education and training support, and much more.

CEO of UL Hospitals Group Colette Cowan said she had been humbled by the support of communities and businesses throughout the Mid-West for the front-line healthcare workers in the region.

“Day after day during this on-going public health emergency, I’ve been frequently moved by the support of the public for our work. It has manifest itself in so many ways, from huge volumes of postcards sent in by people of all ages, up to an incredible range of donations and offers of support. It would be impossible to thank everyone, but I would like each and every person or organisation who has approached us at this time to know that you have my sincere gratitude,” Colette said.