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Moving Malawi experience for Rathmullan striker

The group from Rathmullan who went to Malawi recently to build houses with Habitat for Humanity: Back Left to right- Derek Edwards, Niamh Sheridan, Chrsitine Edwards, Roisin Loughrey, Mo Kelly, Niamh McElwaine, Peadar Folan, Eamonn Sheridan, Sine Friel. Front left to right, Liam Loughrey, Carol Richardson, Connie Barrett, Sarah Sheridan, Margaret Ann Gallgaher (standing)

The group from Rathmullan who went to Malawi recently to build houses with Habitat for Humanity: Back Left to right- Derek Edwards, Niamh Sheridan, Chrsitine Edwards, Roisin Loughrey, Mo Kelly, Niamh McElwaine, Peadar Folan, Eamonn Sheridan, Sine Friel. Front left to right, Liam Loughrey, Carol Richardson, Connie Barrett, Sarah Sheridan, Margaret Ann Gallgaher (standing).

BY LIAM PORTER

“WATCH your house” took on a whole new meaning for Rathmullan striker Eamonn Sheridan earlier this month, for while his team-mates at Rathmullan Celtic were kicking off their new season in the Brian McCormick Cup, he was in Malawi building houses with Habitat for Humanity.

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“There was a group going out from Rathmullan and I was asked by a friend of mine if I’d be interested so I said I’d go. I have to say it was an amazing experience to see people who have nothing but who are still so happy compared to people here who have so much.”

The fourteen-strong group from the Rathmullan area got involved in the Habitat for Humanity project after the local churches in the area had come together to promote it and Eamonn says the locals really got involved.

“There was a lot of fundraising involved but the people in the Rathmullan area were more than generous, it was amazing how much was raised.”

Among the items he packed, Eamonn made sure he brought along some footballs and football gear and he said the reaction that got was breathtaking.

“You really should have seen the faces when the wee lads got a proper football to play with. Before that all they had was a balloon that was wrapped over and over again with plastic bags to use as a ball.”

Their ingenuity and ability to recycle impressed the Rathmullan man.

“These people had nothing, they hadn’t shoes, their tee-shirts were hanging together and they were just living in shacks. Yet they could make a ball from an old balloon and plastic bags or a bucket from a piece of an old car. They were very happy and really lovely people.”

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Eamonn distributed football equipment to local schools and they were overjoyed to receive it, but he says the two-week long visit was really about the building work.

“We were split into two groups and each group built a house during the time we were there. Now they weren’t anything fancy there was no kitchen or toilet in them, but they were a huge improvement on what the people there had to live in.”

Wrecked from the heat and physical labour there wasn’t time to keep up with any sort of pre-season training regime and the Rathmullan striker who played his first game of the season last weekend, admitted he had been “very rusty.”

“The boys had four games played by the time I played at the weekend and I have to say I was really rusty and missed chances I would normally be sticking away.”

The former Finn Harps and Omagh striker tries to maintain his sharpness usually with a dedicated training regime, especially since he is rarely ever around to train with the team.

Based in Dublin where he works in the IT Department of the Coombe Hospital, Eamonn makes the long trek back at the weekends to pull on the boots for Rathmullan in the Donegal League.

“It’s a bit crazy and hectic alright. I was asked to come back three seasons ago and I did and I enjoyed it, but I said after that season that was me done. The pressure came on then and I came back and this year my brother Paddy is in charge with Patrick Patton so I could hardly refuse.

In fairness in the three seasons I’ve been there Rathmullan have won two leagues and a cup so it’s great we’re on the map a bit. We’ve always had good players coming from here but Rathmullan never really won anything, I’m glad that has changed.”

A young boy holds the ball made of plastic bags. The children were overjoyed when the group from Rathmullan brought them a proper football to play with.

A young boy holds the ball made of plastic bags. The children were overjoyed when the group from Rathmullan brought them a proper football to play with.

Following his time with Harps and Omagh, Eamonn played with Malahide and St. James’ Gate in Dublin and he keeps up his fitness by training with the Gate still.

“At this stage I’m there longer than anyone, players or manager but training with them is good, it keeps me on my toes. I train more or less every day, whether it is with St Jame’s Gate or in the gym, at my age you have to, just to try and keep up with the young fellas.”

Following his African adventure though, he is also heading into the new season with a greater appreciation for things that most of us take for granted.

“The few weeks in Malawi was a real eye-opener, it was so touching to see these people and see how little they have but yet to see how happy they are. Even though we were leaving Rathmullan on Regatta Day (and that nearly killed us), it was amazing way to spend a few weeks. You come back with a far greater appreciation of what you have, that’s for sure.”

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