Offaly woman wins ‘special’ pair of Johnny Sexton boots in charity raffle
An Offaly woman who won rugby star Johnny Sexton’s boots in a raffle says they are too special to allow anyone to wear them.
The Ireland international parted ways with the boots he wore during his historic 100th cap – last November’s 60-5 win over Japan – to raise money for Debra Ireland, a charity he has supported for over of a decade.
Nuala Quinlan, 58, from Dunkerrin in County Offaly, picked up the Leinster star’s size 9.5 Adidas Predators – and he handed them over in person at Leinster Rugby’s UCD base.
“I have such admiration for Johnny and feel so lucky to have won these special boots, so I won’t let anyone wear them!” said the mother-of-two, who emigrated to Munich, Germany in the early 1990s.
“Winning them was the last thing I expected. I just thought it was a wonderful gesture on Johnny’s part, especially since they were so special to him, with his children’s and wife’s initials.
“My first thought was to put them in a glass box, but I know for sure I’m going to hang on to it for a while.
“My whole family are big fans of GAA, especially Tipperary hurling. While watching the big rugby games, they wouldn’t be big fans.
Ms Quinlan, who works at the European Patent Office, brought the precious boots to an Irish bar for Leinster’s European Champions Cup final against La Rochelle last Saturday – but even they couldn’t prevent a defeat for Sexton and his team.
The raffle raised €24,000, which will help Debra Ireland support people living with epidermolysis bullosa (EB) and their families, as well as fund research to find treatments.
The skin of patients with EB blisters at the slightest touch, which means that a painful dressing should be applied at least every 48 hours.
Sexton, 36, said he hoped the boots would take pride of place in Ms Quinlan’s home.
He said: “For me, they are very special. Adidas did a great job of making them very personal to me in regards to my children’s and wife’s initials and the 100 caps on them.
“There was also a little Irish flag on them – all those little touches I guess make them extra special.
“My 100th cap was a big day for me and my family, and I really wanted to give something back for all the success and good fortune I’ve had playing this far for Ireland.
“I am absolutely delighted for Debra Ireland that they have managed to make so much money from them.
“I have worked with them for a few years now and have been inspired by the courage of those living with EB, like Emma Fogarty and Claudia Scanlon.
“Researchers are on the cusp of major breakthroughs that will have life-changing consequences for people with EB for years to come, so it is very important that Debra Ireland continues to fund this research.”
The association welcomed the gesture.
“We are delighted that Johnny has decided to use this great moment in his incredible career to raise money for Debra Ireland and we are so grateful to everyone who purchased tickets,” CEO Jimmy Fearon said.
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