Charity ascent sees GAA legends top Carrauntoohill
Ireland’s highest peak mastered by Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh (83) in aid of Alan Kerins Project
GAA Commentator Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh lifts the Sam Maguire Cup on the summit of Carrauntoohil with programme director and former Galway star Alan Kerins (left) and Tom Prendergast, 1969 Kerry All-Ireland winner, during the “Sam to Summit” in aid of the Alan Kerins Project. Photograph: Valerie O’Sullivan/Sportsfile.
Legends and heroes have spawned from the steep crags of Carrauntoohil for centuries, although never before have so many of them gathered at the summit at the same time.
They were all legends of the GAA world, representatives from all 32 counties, along with the Sam Maguire itself – and perfectly fitting too that among them was legendary RTÉ radio commentator Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh.
Because climbing Ireland’s highest mountain takes inspiration and perspiration, even for a group of All-Ireland winners and, at the age of 83, Ó Muircheartaigh provided both.
If the comfort and determination with which he made it to the top wasn’t impressive enough, Ó Muircheartaigh then delivered a typically poetic tribute to the cause, a sort of impromptu sermon on the mount that echoed all around the high silence.
The cause was the Alan Kerins Project, which has already seen the former Galway hurler raise considerable funds for education and other health projects in Zambia. Yesterday’s event, blessed with a day sent straight from heaven, raised over €100,000, and Kerins will fly out to Zambia tomorrow to personally deliver some of those funds.
“What an experience, to have been part of this unique event,” said Kerins. “I’m delighted we have achieved our goal. The enthusiasm shown by current and former players to get involved in the climb has been very, very humbling.”
Among those trekking the 1,038 metres to the top were Kerry’s own Séamus Moynihan, plus Peter Canavan from Tyrone, Cork’s Graham Canty, Mickey Linden from Down and Cavan’s Martin McHugh, all willingly offering each other encouragement – the sort of which would never have been seen on the playing field.
For Ó Muircheartaigh it wasn’t the first time up Carrauntoohil, and possibly not the last given he insisted on making his ascent up the more challenging Devil’s Ladder.
Also carried to the top was the All-Ireland medal won by Limerick footballer Malachi O’Brien, in 1887, and thought to be the oldest All-Ireland medal in existence.
Read an extended account from Ian O’Riordan, who reached the summit, in Monday’s edition.