Paddy (right) with his old club and county teammate Martin Furlong
TG4 is to screen the late Paddy Fenning’s final game for Offaly this Sunday - the same day that the double All-Ireland winner’s fundraising walk was originally due to take place.
The classic 1980 All-Ireland semi-final, in which Kerry beat Offaly by 4-15 to 4-10, is to be broadcast at 2.25pm on Sunday as part of TG4’s All-Ireland Gold series.
Sadly, Paddy died after a valiant battle with motor neurone disease on May 15 last having established a committee to raise €150,000 in aid of research and support services around the condition, as well as homeless causes in Offaly.
The effort was to culminate in a walk along the banks of the Grand Canal on June 7 though due to the coronavirus pandemic, the event inevitably had to be postponed in April. It will be rescheduled for a later date and while fundraising activity has naturally slowed given the events of recent months, it is still ticking over with organisers redoubling their efforts to meet, and hopefully surpass, the €150,000 target.
Through fate or coincidence, Paddy’s 91st and final outing in league and championship football in the Offaly colours will be shown by TG4 on the very day that the walk was to be staged.
Paddy lined out at left half-forward on that occasion and was marked by the late Páidí Ó Sé in a game that is probably best remembered for Matt Connor revealing the full extent of his genius on a national stage.
The Walsh Island maestro contributed a whopping 2-9 of Offaly’s tally and with Gerry Carroll adding 2-1 it meant that, despite posting such a remarkably high tally against that much-vaunted Kerry team, Offaly had just two scorers on the day.
Although only 30 at the time, a breakdown in communication between Paddy and manager Eugene McGee contributed to the Tullamore man’s decision to retire somewhat prematurely from inter-county football, with Offaly going on to contest the following year’s final which they lost to Kerry before famously stopping Mick O’Dwyer’s side’s five-in-a-row bid 12 months later.
That 1980 semi-final also proved to be the final championship outing for Paddy’s fellow 1971 and ‘72 All-Ireland winners Eugene Mulligan and Kevin Kilmurray, which further underlines how remarkable Offaly’s ascent over the course of the following two years was given the quality of personnel that had been shed.
Paddy Fenning’s walk in aid of MND research/support and Offaly homeless causes can be supported through this link: www.gofundme.com/f/MNDWalk.