Ravenhill to host GAA clash in aid of Motor Neurone Disease
Ulster All Stars will face Jim Gavin’s Dublin in Belfast stadium on November 15th
Former Donegal manager Brian McEniff pictured with Ulster and Ireland outhalf Paddy Jackson at Ravenhill, where an Ulster All Stars side will take on Dublin in a game of Gaelic football in aid of Motor Neurone Disease on November 15th. Photograph: Darren Kidd/Inpho/Presseye
True story; up until 1924, before the inaugural Ulster versus Leinster rugby match in Belfast, Ravenhill was a GAA pitch.
And it will be again come November 15th when the 2014 Ulster All Stars face Jim Gavin’s Dublin footballers in a game to raise awareness for Motor Neurone Disease.
Jim McGuinness is unable to oversee Ulster so All-Ireland winning managers Joe Kernan (Armagh 2002) and Brian McEniff (Donegal 1992) deputise.
Next month’s unique gathering is the idea of former Antrim footballer Anto Finnegan, who was diagnosed with the terminal disease in 2012.
“I am humbled by the gesture that Ulster GAA and Ulster rugby have made to support my cause to raise awareness of MND,” said Finnegan at today’s launch in Belfast, which was attended by Northern Ireland sports minister Carál Ní Chuilín.
Unfortunately Ulster chief executive Shane Logan would not speak to the media at the newly branded Kingspan stadium as the province is at a crucial stage of their recruitment of their new director of rugby and head coach. Both will be confirmed next week with current assistant coach Neil Doak favourite to take the latter position.
However, during the formalities Logan did state that “there was no hesitation” when the rugby ground was sought for this charity game due to the reconstruction of Casement Park.
“We have at many occasions in our past been divided in this part of the world,” said Logan. “Those divisions are healing but there are still some divisions but sport, charity and illness still have the ability to move our community, bring all of us together onto a better place.
“It is all of our imperative as rugby, as the GAA, as soccer and indeed everybody in Ulster involved sport to pull together to move away from the past and to focus on what is right and what is good.”
Funding to modernise both stadiums and Windsor Park came from the Northern Ireland Assembly.
“We have one magnificent facility (in Antrim),” Logan added, “and are on the verge of having two others.”
Despite the International Rules test in Australia taken place the following week and club championship commitments, Gavin was adamant Dublin will field its strongest possible side.
“We’re going to bring our A team up the road to Belfast.”
Tickets for the game went on sale today.