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Marathon Match

South West College’s Brendan McDevitt is getting involved as Cancer Focus Northern Ireland and the Michaela Foundation team up to offer 42 enthusiastic footballers the chance of a lifetime, to break the Guinness World Record for the longest Gaelic football match in history and raise valuable funds for both charities. Brendan has been selected to participate in the match, and is raising money for the valuable cause.

Due to the world record attempt involved there is a strict set of rules which the Marathon Match must follow. The game must last for 24 hours; each team must consist of twenty-one players, with six substitutes allowed to come in and out of the game as much and as often as needed; all players must remain in the perimeter of the field; and the game must be played within the spirit and rules of the sport.

With these rules in play, there will be a series of procedures and facilities put in order. Players will receive regular rest breaks, while there will also be ample food, rest areas, physios, tents and water stations within the field perimeter. Yet, even with these things in place, Brendan McDevitt, sport lecturer at South West College, is under no illusions that the ‘Marathon Match’ will prove a huge test.

Brendan said, ‘When I first seen the event I instantly wanted to be involved as I have always been attracted to trying new challenges, especially when it involves sport. It may sound crazy but I’m looking forward to seeing how I can cope with the demands of the challenge. It will require a serious amount of not only physical strength but also mental strength.’

In preparation, Brendan has had to increase and adjust his diet and exercise regime. When asked what he’s doing differently, he said: ‘Definitely the food. I’v started going for long runs before my usual games of football and I just end up being starving and weak with hunger. I’m pretty determined when it comes to training but if the body doesn’t get the correct fuel, you will just gas out no matter how fit you are! I imagine the body will take a beating during the event so I’m doing as much injury prevention training as I can, basically a lot of isolation and stabilising exercises, along with loads of cardio of course.

Even with the preparation required and the hard work ahead, Brendan says he feels enthusiastic and excited about the whole thing. ‘The event offers the participants the opportunity to raise money for charities that mean a lot to me at the same time as attempting to break a Guinness World Record, which sounds pretty cool if you ask me. Being part of a group that is about to attempt something for the first time is exciting and hopefully it will be massive success.’

The ‘Marathon Match’ in partnership with O’Neill’s International Sports, takes place on January 7th/8th in the Tyrone GAA Garvaghey Centre.

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