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Wicklow’s Jackie Kinch: ‘It is a day to keep her name alive, remember the great memories we all have of her and have fun in the happy spirit she always had.’

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Jackie Kinch is renowned for her sporting abilities particularly in the LGFA community as she continues to don the number eight jersey with her native county Wicklow. Kinch played a crucial part at midfield when Wicklow captured the Junior All Ireland title in 2011. She has since caught the eyes of many having previously represented Leinster, chosen for the team of the league twice and flew to Dubai with the Ireland 7’s Development Squad in December at just 23 years of age.

A talented sportsperson who has had the privilege of representing many different teams including her club Tinahely, college IT Carlow, her county and country. She is no stranger to major sporting events. However, there is one sporting event that holds deep meaning above any sporting event she could ever be involved in. The Ellen Kinch Memorial Cup, which is in memory of her sister Ellen who passed away in 2007 at just 16 years of age after a two and a half year battle with cancer.

The Ellen Kinch Memorial Cup has been arranged by the Kinch family, Clifford, Marcella, Michelle and Jackie since 2008. Any proceeds made go to Barrettstown charity where Ellen spent some time of her time.

Jackie and her sister Ellen shared a common love of sport and Wicklow GAA. Ellen was a talented footballer and showed great courage and strength by playing with the local club during her illness. Not only was Ellen a team player, she was a loyal supporter and was chosen as the mascot for the Wicklow men’s footballers in Croke Park as they embarked on their Tommy Murphy Cup campaign in 2007.

The Kinch family have always supported Jackie at her sport whether its soccer, rugby or Gaelic football. They have done this through encouragement, advice, providing lifts to training and important roast dinners. It was and still is a rare occasion for a member of the Kinch’s to miss any game.

Jackie highlights the support as she speaks fondly of a particular memory from her u14 All Ireland Semi Final in 2007 against Tyrone which was played in Cavan. ‘Ellen was very sick at the time and wanted to see the game so the local community gathered together and arranged for a helicopter to bring her’ The helicopter met her in Knockanana and flew her to the game, it landed in a different pitch and then she came to the game, Kinch laughs as she reminisces on the dramatics of it all. ‘She loved football so much and that day she just enjoyed the adrenaline of it all and really had an amazing day especially because we won! Not only did that event make Ellen smile all day but it touched the heart of the family ‘

‘The whole community gathered together and did that, it was so special and we all really appreciated it, we could not thank everyone enough’ Jackie acknowledges.

Ellen was always an active and sporting person and attended camps at Barretstown throughout her illness.Barretstown is a children’s charity that helps kids suffering from cancer and other serious illnesses located at Barretstown Castle, Co Kildare.  The camp is described as a magical place which helps children suffering from illness to enjoy a normal childhood away from hospitals.

Jackie recalls how her sister enjoyed her time there ‘Ellen loved the whole thing!’ ‘It was so much fun and she loved the activities and being outside all of the time instead of being confined to hospitals’ Barrettstown is more than just a camp ‘It helped us as a family through that difficult time and really helped us to be there for each other and support one another’. It is extremely fitting that any money made on the day goes to Barretstown in hope that other young people can enjoy themselves like Ellen did.

The Ellen Kinch Memorial Cup is a fun day on this Saturday 10th June in St Kevin’s Park Tinahely. Many activities are taking place including a Ladies football tournament.

Since its formation in 2008 it has gone from strength to strength as it was originally a single game between two teams. This year there is sixteen teams taking part from inside and outside of the county. Jackie says, ‘There is always a great spirit around the place and everyone really enjoys themselves which is exactly what Ellen would have wanted’.

This Saturday’s fun day holds a special place in the hearts of many in Wicklow especially for Clifford, Marcella, Michelle and Jackie. Ellen had made an impression on anyone she met and Jackie believes ‘It is a day to keep her name alive, remember the great memories we all have of her and have fun in the happy spirit she always had.’

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