organ donor awareness

'Football helped me through it all and it still does, every day. I’ll play as long as I can'

Sligo corner-back Etna Flanagan on how football has helped her deal with the passing of her three-year-old son.

AT THE AGE of 41, Sligo corner-back Etna Flanagan is the oldest player in the TG4 All-Ireland championship and now she and her team-mates are one step away from Croke Park.

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Sligo booked their place in the last four of this summer’s championship with victory over Roscommon on Sunday and if they could go on to lift the Brendan Martin Cup for the first time in 2017, it would complete a remarkable story for Flanagan.

Before Sunday’s game at Páirc Seán Mac Diarmada, the Sligo players were pictured warming up in tee-shirts to raise awareness of donor cards in memory of Ríoghnán Flanagan, the three-year-old son of Etna who passed away in January 2015.

Ríoghnán had been waiting for a heart transplant but unfortunately died before a suitable donor could be found — and now the Sligo team are trying to raise awareness.

Flanagan explained that football has helped her through everything and she has no intention of hanging up her boots anytime soon.

“I went back to club shortly after he died but it was tough, I didn’t go back to county (football), I found it too hard,” she said.

“Your whole heart and soul has to be in county football and mine wasn’t.

“Football has helped me through it all, it just gives you a reason to get out, just to black out everything out of your head just for an hour.

“Football helped me immensely through it all and still does every day.”

donor Jerome Quinn / LGFA Jerome Quinn / LGFA / LGFA

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