Thousands watch Match for Michaela

Ulster 2-12 Donegal 1-12
Published Saturday, 03 November 2012
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A crowd of almost 20,000 people, including the First and deputy First Ministers, turned out at Casement Park on Saturday evening to watch a special sporting event in memory of the late Michaela McAreavey.

Thousands watch Match for Michaela
The First and Deputy First Minister with Michaela's family. (© Michael Cooper)

Match for Michaela saw All-Ireland champions Donegal take on an Ulster select side in an exhibition match at the packed west Belfast stadium.

It was organised as a tribute to the 27-year-old Ballygawley school teacher who was murdered on honeymoon in Mauritius in January last year.

An exciting and competitive game of football was played and Ulster - led by Michaela's father Mickey Harte - fought their way to an impressive 2-12 to 1-12 victory over Jim McGuinness's all conquering Donegal side.

Ulster's goals were scored by Martin Penrose and Darren Hughes.

However the evening was about more than just football with all the money raised going towards the Michaela Foundation.

Everything about it was a touch of class. We needed this to be a night of hope... and that’s what we got. This is a good lesson for people.

Mickey Harte

A crowd of 18,662 attended, including Stormont leaders Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson - at his second ever GAA match.

Other political leaders including Alasdair McDonnell were also there, as well as local sports stars including Ulster great David Humphreys

There was a party atmosphere with traditional Irish music being played and performances from Gortin X Factor star Janet Devlin and Michaela's Girls Camp.

Radio DJ Hector Ó hEochagáin hosted the proceedings.

Michaela's husband John, who organised Match for Michaela, said the funds will be used to grow the Michaela Girls Camp into other counties and to continue her legacy.

Meanwhile Mickey Harte thanked those who came out and said it had been an "uplifting" night for the families.

"It was everything we dreamed it might be and more," he told UTV.

"I know the work that has gone into making this night happen and the people who put so much work into it deserve the support they got.

"People recognised this was going to be a good night and they had a brilliant night, everything about it was a touch of class and that's what it needed to be

"We're so appreciative of the support we got since this tragedy happened to our family, it has been overwhelming, in letters, cards and prayers it's coming all the way and seeing people flock into here tonight with a smile on their face is uplifting."

© UTV News
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8 Comments
Kevin in Belfast wrote (723 days ago):
The comment from Linda just goes to show how obtuse, bitter, uneducated & out of date some people in this country are. I would like to ask her the following questions : 1. Who is the terrorist called Gaelic Football? 2. Who is the terrorist that Casement Park is named after? Surely not Sir Roger Casement? To try to insinuate that the murder of David Black is supported by the majority of Republicans is nothing short of ridiculous & should not have been allowed to be published. The comment reeks of naked bigotry, something that should be consigned to our shameful past.
rob in belfast wrote (723 days ago):
I can't begin to imagine the pain and suffering her new newly wed husband and family have and are still suffering but I really do have to ask if her Father wasn't involved in sport would we have heard so much about it? Just saying
Linda in NI wrote (724 days ago):
The murder of Michaela Harte was so tragic and a terrible loss for her family and husband but i have to say after the sectarian murder by republicans of the prison officer last week it was very inappropriate to see Peter RObinson turning up to a game and sports ground named after republican terrorists.
R in Béal Feirste wrote (725 days ago):
Brilliant image showing Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness together to celebrate this woman's life. I'm sure that this was what Michaela was all about and that she would be proud of the community which she has so tragically left behind.
Ryan in Belfast wrote (725 days ago):
I have to say, well done to Peter Robinson attending this event, its good to see such an iconic figure of Unionism being apart of such an event. I think its only right that Martin McGuinness also goes to, what would be considered, family friendly events from the Unionist community, to say hes the Deputy First Minister for ALL, not just the nationalist community. I know Peter Robinson isnt exacty going to be wearing a Gaelic shirt anytime soon but at least he had the decency to show.
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