FORMER Celtic star, Paddy McCourt laced up his football boots and weaved his magic at Leafair Park on Saturday for a charity tournament held in memory of late, Hoops fanatic, David Farthing.
The tournament, which was the brainchild of Galliagh Park natives, James Doherty and Terence ‘Teece’ Bradley, raised almost £3,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and £500 for the ICU Unit in Altnagelvin Hospital.
Such was the success of the inaugural tournament that organisers are hopeful of making it an annual event to pay tribute to the late Galliagh man and raise vital funds for the genetic condition which affects more than 10,500 people in the UK.
The tournament grew out of a post on Facebook, initially intended to identify the best football team in the Galliagh area. Debate turned to competition and it quickly gathered momentum with 16 teams from Galliagh and the surrounding areas, including Shantallow and Carnhill, signing up for a memorial tournament.
Alongside ‘The Derry Pele’, ex-Derry City players, Sean and Emmett Friars and Neil McCafferty and former Sheffield Wednesday winger, Mark McKeever, were among some of the ex-pros taking part to honour the memory of David who died on New Year’s Day 2014 after suffering a stroke, aged 38.
The former St Peter’s High School student made regular trips to Parkhead to watch his beloved Glasgow Celtic and his friend and tournament organiser, James Doherty, said he would be honoured to know that ex-Hoop star, McCourt turned out to play.
“It’s coming up to David’s anniversary,” explained Doherty. “He was from Galliagh Park and it was all Galliagh Park fellas who came up with the idea. As the competition was getting bigger we decided to name it after David who is a lifelong Celtic supporter.”
In fact David has even secured his own little piece of ‘Paradise’ having his own personalised wall brick displayed on the exterior of the stadium at Parkhead.
“If David knew an ex-Celtic star, Paddy McCourt, was playing today in a tournament in his memory I’m sure he would be over the moon. His family is here today and it’s great for them too that so many people were willing to get involved.
“He loved football. He was 38 years of age and was pronounced dead on New Year’s Day. He had slipped into a coma on December 27th. He was a well known figure in Galliagh and was a big Celtic supporter,” he added.
McCourt, representing The Magnet Bar team, strutted his stuff during his side’s opening two games before his tournament was ended prematurely when dislocating his shoulder in a tackle against eventual winners, Carnhill oufit, The Daltan Farm Produce team.
Inaugural David Farthing Memorial Cup winners, The Daltan, defeated The Gate Bistro on penalties in the final with Derry City boss, Declan Devine on hand to hand out the trophy at the presentation night at the Cosh Bar & Grill where spot prizes, including recently appointed Republic of Ireland captain, Shane Duffy’s signed shirt and Ireland midfielder, Glen Whelan’s signed training top.
A range of local businesses and pubs also got fully behind the tournament, donating football kits for all 16 teams and raising much needed funds for the Cystic Fibrosis fund.
“When we started the competition off it was just local teams in Galliagh and a couple of other teams from Carnhill and Shantallow stepped in and we decided to donate the monies raised to the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. So we had 16 teams in the end.
“It was only five weeks ago we came up with the idea to start a tournament. It started off as a Facebook post asking if local teams would get together for a bit of craic and it’s been a class turnout.
“There’s been a couple of great matches. There’s a lot of boys who haven’t kicked a ball in years and it was a bit of craic but the majority of them are fit and play Saturday Morning League football or whatever, but it will just keep getting bigger every year hopefully.
“The amount of people who have made donations has been phenomenal. People have come up to me today and handed over money and donations. People who have family members who suffer from cystic fibrosis have donated as well.
“We would also like to thank Derry City manager, Declan Devine for taking the time to come along and present the trophies and thanks to Ruairi Breslin and Tony O’Connor for their hospitality at The Cosh. These lads went above and beyond to make sure the day was the success it was.”
Derry City’s Head of Youth Development, McCourt, was delighted to play his part in a special tribute to the late, David.
“I was asked to play by a couple of people I know from Galliagh,” said McCourt. “They were looking to put on a tournament and I was very pleased to get involved.
“I went and got a team from Shantallow but Neil McCafferty missed a penalty and got us knocked us out,” he laughed. “But it’s been a great day and hopefully there will be a lot of money raised for a fantastic charity.
“There are a lot of boys here I haven’t seen in a long time, boys from Galliagh, Shantallow and Carnhill so it’s great to be involved in it.
“A lot of friends around the area would’ve known David quite well. I knew him just to see, he was a bit older than me, but it was no secret he was heavily involved with the Celtic supporters groups and travelling across to games pretty regularly.
“If it means a small part by being here today, then I’m delighted to be involved.”
With the generous donations going towards the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, local businessman and Galliagh native, Ruairi Breslin, whose seven year-old son, Ruairi suffers from the disorder, was delighted to see so many people getting behind and highlighting the cause.
“It’s brilliant and it’s a great charity,” he said. “There are a lot of new drugs out at the minute to treat cystic fibrosis and the more money we can raise the better.
“It’s all Gallaigh people who got together to start the tournament and then everyone else from different bars and businesses started weighing in and raising money. It’s class.
“We raised more money on a big night at The Cosh with spot prizes and Declan Devine was there to do the presentations. It’s all local businesses who put money towards it and helped buy the jerseys.
“There is also £500 going towards the ICU Unit in Altnagelvin as well in memory of David Farthing and on behalf of his family. It’s been a great day and hopefully this will be an annual event now and get bigger and better to raise more money for cystic fibrosis.”
Ronan ‘Roe’ Farthing, the brother of the late, David, also played in the tournament for the Link 47 team and thanked everyone for playing their part in a special day in memory of his brother.
“What a day and night,” he posted on Facebook. “Massive well done to each and every one of you who got involved.
“I’m sure David would have been smiling down on all of us.”