We’re doing 15 marathons for Penny Dinners

This Saturday, Becky Cassis, of the U-17 Cork City FC women's team, will be among those taking part in 15 combined marathons being run for Penny Dinners, writes EMMA CONNOLLY
We’re doing 15 marathons for Penny Dinners
WOW FEATURE Becky Cassis Feature

CORK City FC women’s newest signing has yet to play her first game with the club due to Covid-19 restrictions.

But vice-captain Becky Cassis is looking forward to running her first marathon as part of an epic fund-raiser organised by the local club for Penny Dinners.

This Saturday, May 30, the players and staff of the women’s first team, U-17 team and the amputee team are aiming to run 15 combined marathons for the charity.

Becky, who moved to Cork in January, lives and breathes soccer, but until now hasn’t really ran more than 5k.

Herself and her illustrious team mate Éabha O’Mahony intend running a full marathon, while others will clock up the miles by covering various distances on the day.

Originally from Wicklow, 23-year-old Becky went to her first Ireland match when she was just eight and said her interest grew from there.

She played for Wexford before this and as Cork City’s most decorated player was looking forward to making her mark with them this season, but the global pandemic had other plans.

“Lockdown hit two days before the season was due to start,” she said.

“I moved to Cork in January and we started training in February, so I had around one and half months training with the team and I got to know them pretty well.

Becky Cassis and her team mates on the U-17 Cork City FC Women's Team.
Becky Cassis and her team mates on the U-17 Cork City FC Women's Team.

“But it has been hard since Covid hit — for the first time in my life I don’t have team sports.

“We are all following our individual training programmes and I do have a pitch around the corner from where I live which helps. But I do miss the camaraderie and the banter and it can be hard at times when you don’t have people to push you on,” she said.

The centre midfielder lives in St Luke’s with her girlfriend Megan, from Youghal, and works in Pepsi.

She said training for the marathon gave her great focus during lockdown, and kept her motivated.

Becky will complete the distance by running down Centre Park road and back, and running the old railway line and back — five times.

Megan isn’t a runner, but will be by her side on the day.

The sportswoman admits it will be a huge mental challenge, but she’s looking forward to the new experience and hopes to complete the marathon in around three and a half hours.

Becky Cassis.
Becky Cassis.

Meanwhile, Fergal Duffy, Cork City’s amputee team’s goalkeeper, is equally excited about the challenge ahead on May 30.

The amputee team was set up in 2018, and Fergal has been with them from the start and has the added distinction of playing with Irish side.

The 28-year-old was born without his left hand and says he’s “never known anything different”. He also plays with his home GAA club, Fr O’Neill’s, in both football and hurling. He plays in the forwards and has a special hurling prosthetic hand, which has smaller gaps between the fingers.

Fergal says he’s never been treated any different to his team members and has always had to rise to the level needed, but until he started with the amputee team, he never really took his prosthetic off in public.

The rules of amputee soccer don’t allow a prosthetic. Those without a leg play outfield and those without a hand play in goal. It’s a different avenue and one that I’m glad I went down,” said Fergal.

In his two years playing amputee soccer, he’s been to the 2018 World Cup in Mexico where they came 13th out of 24; and to the Champions League in Georgia last May where they finished fourth out of six.

Fergal (sponsored by McKesson Cork) who works in Pat Hennerty Sales (office supplies), Togher, said he wished he’d taken the plunge and joined up earlier and encouraged anyone thinking about it, to go for it. He’ll be running 10km on May 30.

Rónán Collins, Cork City FC’s women’s manager, is the fundraising campaign organiser.

“Cork Penny Dinners is one of Cork’s oldest caring charitable organisations. They currently serve up to 2,000 freshly made meals per week at their premises. Their aims are simple —to help all who struggle and those in need,” he said.

Originally from Wicklow, he’s been in Cork for 11 years and is engaged to a Ballinhassig woman.

A special needs teacher in a Macroom school, he said that in total, between players and coaches, 50 people, ranging in age from 15 to 60, will cover the 15 marathons.

“Our aim is to raise around €2,500 — but at Cork City FC we like setting targets and breaking them, even if we won’t have a game this year,” he said.

To make a donation see gofundme.ie

We are all following our individual training programmes... but I miss the camaraderie and the banter and it can be hard at times when you don’t have people to push you on.

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