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Wesley O Brien with some of the framed memorabilia which he raffled on December 5 at Killaloe Tennis Club. Money raised will go to the Hidden Hope Charity Foundation and the Access Tennis Foundation. Photograph by John Kelly

Home draw for Nadal shirt as Clare charity raffle beats target

A COVETED Rafael Nadal shirt is now a major item of interest in the Killaloe Ballina Tennis Clubhouse after two local members won this jersey in a recent online charity auction organised by a local coach.

Auctioning sports memorabilia has helped Wesley O’Brien to raise €5,133, which will be split between the Access Tennis Foundation and Hit and Hope, Tennis.

Signed jerseys from high profile sports stars attracted a lot of interest from sports enthusiasts at home and abroad when they were posted online recently.

Tony Head from Kilkee won the Franz Beckenbauer jersey, Jaquie Curness, Surrey, England, won the Lewis Hamilton print, Stephen Monaghan from Cavan, who lives in Slovakia, was awarded the Rory McElroy golf flag, while Kathryn Dennehy from Ardnacrusha, who is a club member, got the Usain Bolt jersey.

The Rafael Nadal jersey effectively stays at home in the club, however, after the names of Colleen Donnellan and Daphne Henderson came out of the hat.

The Spaniard’s jersey raised the largest amount of money in ticket sales, netting €1,250.

A lot of Killaloe Ballina tennis club members who entered the raffle came to the clubhouse for the draw, which coincided with a children’s practice day. Some of the children involved in the practice day picked out the winning tickets.

Mr O’Brien is delighted that this special piece of tennis memorabilia will stay in the club.

“It is good that the Rafael Nadal jersey will stay in the club. It will be hung up in the clubhouse. All the Killaloe Ballina Tennis Club members who entered the draw can come in and see it.”

Having initially set a target of €5,000, Mr O’Brien is very happy the final proceeds exceeded this figure following extensive publicity in local and national media.

He will spend some of the proceeds on tennis rackets, balls, nets and possibly a new defibrillator for another refugee camp.

A few years ago, he recalled a man was playing winter league tennis with Limerick Lawn in Douglas in Cork when he suffered a cardiac arrest and was saved with the help of a defibrillator.

There is an organisation in Turkey called the KEP team that run a centre for refugee girls and women in the city.

Mr O’Brien hopes to travel to Izmir to provide tennis training in this camp next March, subject to Covid-19 guidelines.

All of the jerseys were included in a special frame that has been professionally inserted. The raffle winners also received a certificate of authenticity with each of the jerseys.

The proceeds are already being put to good use with new tennis sessions started in Galway’s Direct Provision Centre.

The sports memorabilia were posted on idonate under the Access Foundation banner as part of five separate raffles.

Mr O’Brien is delighted proceeds from the raffle will help him to continue his charity work with the Hit and Hope Foundation and to help the Access Foundation in Ireland.

The Hit and Hope Tennis Foundation started off in 2020 when Wesley decided to raise money to purchase a defibrillator for the Ritsona Refugee Camp, north of Athens.

Having contacted the Rafael Nadal Foundation, Mr Nadal sent him a signed shirt. Back in June 2020, Wesley only had half what was required to purchase the defibrillator so he contributed the remainder from his own money.

Wesley managed to purchase the defibrillator from a company in Mallow at a very competitive cost price of €800 because it was for charity.

Following another appeal, he has received some interesting sports memorabilia.

Proceeds from the auction will also be shared with Olwyn O’Toole from Access Tennis Foundation in Ireland, which gives refugees in Direct Provision, homeless people in emergency accommodation and the marginalised a chance to play tennis.

By Dan Danaher

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