The first official engagement for the FAI Cup in Derry has been to a superfan with a life-limiting condition.
Darren McClelland has complex medical needs, which means he can’t use his arms or legs.
The 22-year-old overcame all the odds to see the Candystripes in action in the FAI final against Shelbourne in the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
On Tuesday, the cup he saw his beloved team win in a 4-0 victory came to him.
Darren attends Derry City’s home games but poor health has left him bedbound for weeks. A trip to Dublin for Sunday’s game seemed impossible.
"After the last couple of weeks I didn’t think I would be able to get down because I can’t even get into my wheelchair," he told UTV.
Mum Orla stepped in.
She found a specialist ambulance which could take Darren to the match. A GofundMe appeal was set up to meet the costs.
The funds were raised within an hour thanks to the generosity of other Derry City supporters and Darren’s dream came true.
Republic of Ireland international and former Derry City star James McClean also helped out and met Darren at the match.
Orla has thanked everyone who helped get Darren to the game
She said: “I’m speechless just at how generous people have been. The fact he was able to get down and cheer them on was absolutely amazing. The atmosphere was amazing and he was able to join in and be amongst it."
After his cup final exertions, Darren is receiving respite care in Spruce House in Derry.
Yet, the excitement didn’t end. The FAI Cup was brought to Darren’s room - its first official visit in the city after the homecoming celebrations on Monday night.
With the trophy beside his bed Darren knows his dream really did come true.
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