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'This time we're in it together' - former Dubs hero to take on Hill 16 steps challenge for charity

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Eamon and wife Fiona on Hill 16 as they prepare to take on their big challenge

Eamon and wife Fiona on Hill 16 as they prepare to take on their big challenge

Eamon and wife Fiona on Hill 16 as they prepare to take on their big challenge

Former Dubs hero Eamon Fennell will be seeing Hill 16 from the other side of the goalposts when he takes on a new fundraising challenge.

Eamon and his wife Fiona Creely will be embarking on something that has never been done before in Croke Park.

They will be taking on 160 steps, 80 steps up and 80 steps down, to set the first record for the number of times someone has gone up and down the iconic Hill over 160 minutes.

The St Vincent's man believes he will be able to go up and down the Hill 160 times in the 160 minutes and is working hard on his endurance.

It's all in aid of a good cause, to raise much-needed funds for the Jack & Jill Children's Foundation.

Training

"I set a little challenge for myself along the way," he said.

If that wasn't enough, he is also in triathlon training to do a half Ironman next August.

"It's a 23km run, 1.9km swim and a 90km cycle," Fennell said.

Yesterday, he was swimming outdoors in The Baths in Clontarf at 6am, which he admitted was a cold one.

Fennell recently completed his Masters at UCD's Smurfit Business School, which his wife had done before him.

"I said to my wife Fiona that I would like to do a project together," he said.

He pointed out that over the last two-and-a-half years he has been busy studying and playing football, so when Jack & Jill reached out he knew this was going to be a great project for the couple.

The pair recently climbed Howth Hill as part of their first challenge.

"I am under no illusions that this is going to be a daunting challenge, but I am up for it," he said.

"For so long my wife Fiona has been cheering me on from the sidelines. This time we're in this together and we will be there to support each other all the way."

He is also very supportive of the work being done by the charity.

"I was MC at an event for them last year and I got to meet a few families and a few people who look after it," he said.

"I was just blown away by the messages and the stories people were telling me."

The couple are proud parents of Millie (18 months) and Eamon said a good few of the Dublin lads he played with also have babies now.

"Our stories and messages have changed from trying to meet up and either go for a training session or a drink together, to swapping stories - what are you doing when the baby wakes up, how are you fitting training in - and all that stuff," he said laughing.

Meanwhile, the bar he opened alongside former team-mates Michael Darragh Macauley and Ross McConnell, Huck's, on Camden Street in the capital, has adapted well during Covid.

They won the All-Ireland together in 2011 and, he says they are "two incredible lads".

"It is nice to have a project where the three of us are in it together. It is challenging obviously at the moment.

"It is interesting in a way to find out how adaptable you can be when you really put your mind to it."

They have moved a lot of stuff online, and they are doing takeaways as well.

"We have changed things dramatically but everything is working, thankfully."

Eamon and Fiona's Hill 16 challenge will take place on Friday, October 30.

Supported

The fundraiser is part of an appeal to fill a €200,000 funding gap and to extend the age range of children supported by the charity from five to six years of age.

Funds raised will go towards the home nursing care of 362 Jack & Jill children around the country with highly complex medical and life-limiting conditions.

To take part in your own fundraiser, people can register at www.jackandjill.ie for €16 - which funds one hour of home nursing care and end-of-life care. No sponsorship card is required.