Sarah sets off on her marathon mission

Former Kerry footballer, Sarah Houlihan (right) is under strict last minute training from teacher Lorraine Counihan (left) and under the watchful eye of Amelia O’Regan (centre) as she prepares for the marathon.
Pictures: Marie Carroll-O’Sullivan

A former star Kerry footballer will embark on a full marathon this Friday to generate funds and awareness for a cause close to her heart.

All-Star attacker Sarah Houlihan is hitting the road to run 42.195km to support the children in the special classes at Cullina National School in Beaufort where she works.

She wants to help them to complete simple everyday social tasks, like posting a letter, returning a book to the library, grocery shopping, swimming, horse riding and other activities.

“Inclusivity is imperative at every level of education and such experiences are vital but we are a country school so transportation costs are always a hurdle,” she said.

A highly regarded special needs teacher for the past seven years, Sarah has almost doubled her initial fundraising target of €7,000an has generated over €13,500 in online donations.

On your marks: Sarah Houlihan with pupils Iarla Mulligan, Adam O’Regan, teacher Lorraine Counihan, Padraig Mulligan and Amelia O’Regan

The idea for the marathon came about during an informal discussion Sarah had with class teacher, Lorraine Counihan, and another classroom SNA, Sarah Kelliher, about how the pupils deserved more opportunities outside of the school to promote their social and communication skills.

“I want this event to raise funds so the children in our classrooms can go on outings once or twice a month and do things like visit the library and stand in queues to exchange their books. The more we raise the more opportunities we can offer our children,” Sarah said.

To run the marathon, Sarah will leave Cullina National School this Friday at 9.00am, heading towards Killarney, through the national park and on towards Moll’s Gap.

When she reaches 21km, she will turn and head back towards the school, running through Fossa and Beaufort villages.

She said training for the marathon but the cause she is supporting is definitely keeping her motivated. 

To donate online to Sarah’s fundraiser go to

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