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Dublin: 10°C Tuesday 19 January 2021

The Waterford man preparing to swim the length of Ireland in memory of his father

Alan Corcoran is looking to raise money for two charities close to his heart.

ALAN CORCORAN IS no stranger to pushing his body to the limit but, not content with the feat of completing 35 marathons in as many consecutive days, the Waterford native is now preparing to raise the bar even higher.

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Five years ago, the 26-year-old raised €15,000 for charity by becoming the first man to run a lap of Ireland after being inspired by his father, former FAI president Milo Corcoran, who suffered a stroke the previous year.

As many of you will know, Milo, widely-regarded as one of the nicest men in Irish football, unfortunately passed away last August after a short battle with cancer and now Alan is taking on a second charity challenge in his memory.

That challenge involves swimming the length of Ireland from the Giants Causeway to his home town of Dunmore East.

“He was always an encouraging figure in my life and ensured I had everything I needed to succeed and for that I will always be grateful,” Corcoran said.

“Losing my dad, especially in the helpless manner in which it all happened, has been the toughest experience of my life. Out of the darkness I am going through with my family I am determined to grasp any opportunity to create some positives.

Heart Foundation Awards 2012 Alan Corcoran with his father, Milo, back in 2012.

“There was nothing I could do but try and comfort my dad in those heartbreaking weeks in hospital. We were all helpless. The swim is my small way of feeling like I’m taking some meaningful action.”

Corcoran, who works with Ealing Council in London, has set an ambitious fundraising target of €50,000 for the Irish Cancer Society and National Rehabilitation Hospital.

He is currently knee-deep in training for the challenge, which will begin on 13 May and see him swim more than six hours each day for 30 consecutive days until the 500km journey from north to south is complete.

“My dad’s passing pushed me over the edge to committing,” he continues. “Athletics would have been my main sport so getting in the pool after 15 years out of it has been a steep learning curve. It has been a hell of a lot tougher than I expected.

“Even things like the pool opening hours and being restricted to a 25m lane has been difficult compared to the marathon training where I could just run wildly on the trails in the Phoenix Park whenever and for as long as I needed.”

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Euros June 2016 2 The Corcoran family at Euro 2016.

With under two months until he takes to the water in Antrim, preparations are going well with Corcoran clocking up 400 lengths in the pool at a time in anticipation of the physically gruelling swim along the east coast of the country which awaits.

All that preparation is within his control, but getting the necessary assistance to support him in his efforts is proving to be difficult.

“At the moment it looks like I’m going to be self-supported,” he explains. “I have been using my few minutes at lunch to email sailing and yacht clubs up and down the east coast to look for assistance from crews but so far I haven’t had any luck.

“I would hope to have two or three people with me who know what they’re doing in terms of water safety but it could be just a land crew and maybe someone in a kayak. It’s not ideal but regardless of support, I’m not backing out now. I’ve put too much into this not to give it my best.”

On the flip side, Corcoran has received great support from the FAI and there will be bucket collections at next month’s World Cup qualifier against Wales at the Aviva Stadium.

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“Football was his life. Dad was a regular at his beloved Waterford United, joining the supporter’s club in his youth and later serving a variety of roles including club chairman.

“He was elected FAI President in 2001 having previously served as Vice President, proving to be a hugely popular figure in all circles of Irish football due to his commitment to improving the game at every level.

“In doing this I want to do him proud again and raise vital funds for the services that assisted him and our family during difficult times.”

And certainly the final leg and homecoming in Waterford promises to be a poignant moment for Corcoran as he looks to complete the most incredible sporting achievement.

“Fingers crossed I get there in one piece and I’m not stung by too many jellyfish along the way,” he jokes. “I’m visualising running up the slip in Dunmore East with family and friends there. It will be special.”

For more information on Alan’s challenge and to donate, visit his website.

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Ryan Bailey

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