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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 3 June, 2020

Portarlington RFC slog it out to raise funds for adored player whose life has been irreparably altered

Mother of two Andrea Broughan will never again be able to move, talk or breathe for herself, and an effort is being made to raise funds for her family.

Portarlington RFC prop Andrea Broughan on the march.
Portarlington RFC prop Andrea Broughan on the march.

PORTARLINGTON RFC PLAYER Andrea Broughan encapsulates everything that is great about club sport in Ireland. A committed player, she dedicated herself to a level of training that led to major success on the pitch. She supported all club teams, assisted with fundraising events and regularly helped out by coaching youth teams in her club.

As such, the club was rocked when Andrea was rushed to hospital last November and diagnosed with meningitis. Her condition deteriorated rapidly and the talented prop had to put up the fight of her life to overcome the condition. She eventually recovered and her PortDara Falcons teammates were thrilled to see their popular leader supporting them from the sidelines after Christmas.

Andrea was over the moon to be able to look forward to eventually returning to play and spoke of making the most of her second chance when surrounded by her clubmates, friends and family.

Image (1) Andrea Broughan (centre).

However, on 25 February disaster struck for the second time. Andrea was again rushed to hospital and, again, she was diagnosed with meningitis. It was pancake Tuesday and ‘Andy’ had spent the morning helping her beloved grandmother with household chores before having lunch with her father, Paul. There was no indication at that point of what was to come, but the following day she went into respiratory arrest and required life support.

Since then, the 30-year-old mother of two has developed septicemia and suffered two cerebral strokes that led to complete damage to her spinal nerve from C1 to C6 with almost no hope of recovery. She is being cared for in Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital where she requires full-time ventilation and cannot regulate her own blood pressure or breathing.

Early last month, Andrea’s heart stopped and she had to be resuscitated.

The prognosis for the Laois woman is grim. Her neurosurgeon has told her mother, Jan, and partner, Adam, that she will never again be able to move, talk or breath for herself. Despite the physical damage caused by her condition, Andy is still able to understand everything that is being said to her; she recognises her children Elena (4) and Evan (5) and can communicate through blinking. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, her family are not able to visit her but her care team have set up regular video calls and help by interpreting her blinks.

One of Andrea’s biggest fans, Portarlington RFC’s Clive Doody, was heartbroken to see the pain that her children, friends and family were enduring and so too it upon himself to offer his own helping hand. Clive, one of his club’s most reliable volunteers who rarely misses a Falcons match, decided to make the most of the lockdown by walking the equivalent of the length of Ireland without breaking the 5km rule.

He walks laps of a circuit on the bog at the Derryounce Lakes, clocking up to 45k on some days in a bid to raise money to help Andrea’s partner and kids with the inevitable costs that face them.

Image (2) Portarlington RFC man Clive Doody.

Clive’s neighbour, former Portarlington RFC President and The42 member Barry Lambkin is managing the Facebook fundraiser in honour of his friend. Each day, supporters are updated on Clive’s progress along the virtual route which began in Kinsale Co. Cork will finish on Saturday at Royal Portrush Golf Club – the scene of Shane Lowry’s stunning Open Championship victory last summer.

Barry explained: “Portarlington is a town split by the River Barrow with half of us living in Laois and the other half in Offaly. Clive is a proud Laois man and he really loves the banter with his Offaly friends but like all of us, he celebrated Shane’s triumph and didn’t begrudge them the kudos. What Clive is doing at the moment has also united both sides of the town and so it’s quite fitting that a Laois man will reach his goal at the site of an Offaly man’s greatest moment.”

Andrea’s teammates have decided to support Clive’s fundraiser and on Saturday, while Clive completes the 476km route with a final 50k ‘Slog on the Bog’, the Falcon’s will not just match his effort but they will walk, run and cycle a combined 766km by adding a virtual route from Belmullet to Balbriggan as they travel the length and breadth of Ireland for Andy.

Clive is delighted to have them on board, saying: “The craic on Facebook has been brilliant. Their captain, Michelle Maher, has been putting up player profiles and their individual targets for Saturday and the slagging has been great.

As a father of young children myself, I can only imagine what those poor kids and Adam are going through but its great that we can come together as a team, club and community to show them how much their mum means to us and that we are here for them.

Clive aims to raise €10,000 for Andrea and her family, and donations can be made on the Facebook fundraising page through this link. Please note: Due to a technical issue, the donation link may not load fully on certain phones. But it will work via desktop, or you can access it via the Facebook app: just search for Portarlington RFC or the PortDara Falcons Women’s Rugby Team and you will find the link on their respective pages).

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