Down camogs running a combined 5,000km in 40 days to raise money for NHS

Fionnuala Carr's father Ross helped Down win the 1991 and 1994 All-Ireland Football titles
Fionnuala Carr has been a mainstay of the Down camogie team for 20 years

Fionnuala Carr knows all about leading.

Over the last 20 years, the centre-back has been a mainstay with Down and Clonduff camogs.

Often drawing comparisons with her father - two-time All-Ireland winner Ross Carr - Carr captained Down to double Ulster success in 2018 and 2019 and was key to Clonduff clinching their first All-Ireland title in 2019.

But now, Carr finds herself playing a central role in a different - albeit equally inspiring - project.

Without training, Carr and the Down camogie panel have endeavoured to help the National Health Service by running 5,000km in 40 days.

Their target is to raise £3,000 during that window to "give something back" to the NHS staff who are fighting the coronavirus outbreak on the frontline.

Mourne ladies on track to reach target

Almost three weeks in and the Mourne ladies are well on track to reach their goal.

"Not too dissimilar to a lot of other squads, we have girls who are nurses, two student nurses, we have occupational therapists who are working in the community and we have physiotherapists," Carr told BBC Sport NI's Mark Sidebottom.

"We also have girls working on the admin side of hospitals, so they're in high-risk environments, but they're still working hard in their day jobs and getting in their kilometres."

Carr, who has been working remotely for a Dublin-based waste management company, says she is keen to contribute by helping to promote exercise and good mental health during these difficult times.

"They [her teammates who work in the NHS] have said that it's a surreal environment, but what we're trying to do is promote exercise and people getting out into the fresh air to help their mental health.

"We have a group of about 40 girls contributing to one WhatsApp group, so it's creating a lot of goodwill and camaraderie among the group as well.

"Whenever you are part of something like that, it gives people the feeling that they are doing something good at a very difficult time."

Fionnuala Carr in action for Clonduff
Carr helped Clonduff win a first All-Ireland Club Camogie title in 2019

Croke memories

Carr, like so many other prominent sportsmen and women, finds herself without the routine of training and competitive action for the foreseeable future.

And while the 39-year-old waits for that to return, she agrees that life without camogie puts into perspective how sweet that All-Ireland triumph with Clonduff at Croke Park was, not just for the club, but for the whole community.

"A lot of people are putting up memories on Instagram and Twitter of the good days and a couple of the girls put up photos of that day in Croke Park," said Carr.

"It brings a smile and brings back a memory of a very good time for a lot of people.

"It's not just for the girls that won or the management team, there were so many people involved in that win.

"I think the biggest thing from the time was that so many people took a photograph of the Clonduff crest on the big screen at Croke Park. People of all ages, so it had such a knock-on effect for so many people in her community."

Carr appreciates her good fortune in being part of a small, tight-knit community, which is part of her motivation for the fundraiser.

"I know my family are safe and healthy, but there are a lot of homeless people who aren't part of communities and there are a lot of people leaving their families to go work on the frontlines.

"It's a huge sacrifice on their part so we wanted to be able to give something back to those who needed it."

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