By Kevin Herron
Antrim referee Paddy Tumelty has embraced the challenge of completing 50 5k walks, concluding with Darkness into Light on Saturday morning.
The Lámh Dhearg clubman will be at Hannahstown on Saturday morning completing his 50th walk with friends and family and recalls being inspired by completing it for the first time in 2022.
“I went up to Darkness into Light for the first-time last year” Paddy recalled.
“My son Aodh lost his friend through suicide and we went and did it with the T-shirts on. We did and it was so enlightening. It’s about people that have lost people coming together to console each other, to talk about their loved ones. The ribbons on the pitch that everybody does on the way out with everybody’s name on it that’s lost somebody- the yellow ribbons- it was a lovely touch too.
“There was music and somebody playing a guitar, a meet and greet at the club- it was so good and walk itself, walking around and coming back down when the twilight was coming into the light was just perfect.
Former club Chairman Peter Kane and Micky Boyle have completed the 50 5k walks over recent years and Tumelty revealed it was a phone call from his friend Peter that persuaded him to take up the reins on March 18th.
“Peter Kane asked me would I do the 50 5ks” said Tumelty.
“I can obviously incorporate them in my matches because we run an average in a match of 6-10k in a football and hurling match. I’m doing a wee blog with all the walks I’ve done so far. I’ve 46 walks done so far and I’ve four more to do- the last one is obviously the Darkness into Light on Saturday morning.
“It’s a credit to the club in how they run it and how they do it. it’s a fixture in the calendar forever. I started my first 5k, I had family home from Canada on the 18th of March. We rented a house in Fermanagh, and we went up the Cuilcagh Mountain and did the stairway to heaven. It’s about 5.5k on the way up and 5.5k on the way back down. It was a brilliant day, and I did it with my brother Christy. That was the first walk on 18th March and it was absoulty flew in. I’ve had plenty of opportunities for walking”.
Paddy is also being joined in the challenge by cousin of Senior hurling manager, Martin Fegan and spoke of his many walks over recent weeks including Portugal on a Stag do and walking around Newcastle on an Easter holiday with family.
“Marty Fegan is doing it as well, he’s a good lad and a cousin of our senior manager Daryl Fegan”
“He’s got people out walking with him in Helens Bay, my wife (Deborah) and I were up early on Saturday morning doing a 5k towards Crawfordsburn. I went to a stag and in Portugal and we did our walks up and down the beaches of Portugal with a couple of the lads on the stag. I was in in Newcastle over Easter and got out on plenty of walks around Newcastle and with football matches. It’s been brilliant and I’ll be sorry when it ends”.
To date, Tumelty has raised £2,000 for Darkness into Light Charity, Pieta House and has had a great response from Gaels and his colleagues in refereeing circles.
“I’ve had lots of donations with nearly £2,000 raised” Tumelty revealed.
“People are pushing donations to you and there are plenty of people in the GAA community that are contributing. You’ve family and friends that are offering to go out on walks with you and everybody wants to do it with you. Lots of referees have donated into me and I’ve been pushing the link onto them to donate. I’m really looking forward to Saturday. I’ve really embraced it from last year, I’ve enjoyed it and I don’t want to miss it again. I would recommend everybody to do it. it is really good, and people can take it at their own pace and just walk. It is good craic”.