Conan Byrne has been blown away by the good will shown by people on the back of his marathon charity walk which has raised nearly €13,000.
The former St Patrick's Athletic and Shelbourne winger finished his 42 kilometre walk in aid of the Irish Cancer Society on Wednesday evening with sore legs but an incredible amount of money for the charity.
With people being encouraged to stay indoors and practice social distancing in order to help stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the charity's traditional Daffodil Day fundraiser had to be cancelled so Byrne came up with a novel idea to try and raise some funds.
The walk to each of the League of Ireland grounds in Dublin began on the nothside of the city, taking in Tolka Park and Dalymount Park before continuing on to Richmond Park in Inchicore and then on to Tallaght Stadium.
The longest stretch was from Tallaght to Stradbrook before he hit the Belfield Bowl and then finished up at the Aviva Stadium and Byrne admitted that he has been amazed at the response from people willing to donate.
"My initial target before I even saw the GoFundMe page was €750!" Byrne told Off The Ball.
"After about three hours, I had to change that to €4000 and when I got to €4000, I was saying Amanda (his partner), 'will I put it up again?' but she said, 'no don't because it might look a bit greedy'.
"Once I got to €4000 I was happy enough and anything past that was a bonus but to get to €12,000 (at the time of writing) is just incredible!"
Byrne is currently plying his trade with NIFL Premiership club Glenavon, whom he thanked for allowing him to do the walk while under contract.
Some people undergoing treatment for cancer can be at an increased risk of contracting COVID-19 and increasing awareness was also important at this time.
"It's trying times for everyone in this country and that's why my initial target was so low because I didn't want to put pressure on anybody during this time," added Byrne.
"But people who have those underlying conditions, and cancer being one of them, they are facing into a period of uncertainty.
"This is just a small dent in what 'Daffodil Day' would have raised but it just created a great awareness of the charity and what it needs at this time of crisis."
So what was his favourite stretch on his charity stroll?
"Shelbourne to Bohemians was a lovely walk," said Byrne. "Walking up the Royal Canal, heading up to Dalymount is very picturesque at that time in the morning and very quiet as well.
"As everybody knows, I'm known for my days at St Pats and the success that we had there so getting up to Inchicore and putting the St Pats jersey on again was a nice feeling."
Byrne was keeping people informed of his progress with some video posts on social media and he got a few laughs when he took the chance to remind Shamrock Rovers supporters of his four goal haul at Tallaght Stadium.
He bagged all the goals in a 4-0 win for the Saints against the Hoops back in 2013 when the Inchicore club were crowned league champions.
— Conan Byrne (@conanbyrnecb7) March 18, 2020
"I had to do that!" chuckled Byrne. "It was a great thing to do because it drew a lot of people to the page!
"But we always have a bit of banter with Shamrock Rovers fans and they take it in good spirits and they come and hammer me sometimes and I take it as well. It's all in good spirit!"
There will be tough weeks and months ahead for the nation, including everyone involved with the SSE Airtricity League.
The 2020 season was only four weeks in before the FAI was forced to end all football activity in Ireland but Byrne is hopeful that it won't be too long before the grounds he visited today will be packed again with football supporters.
"Mental health is going to be a huge issue now over the next couple of months with people not being able to get out and have team bonding with their clubs or even friendship bonding and going over to somebody's house," said Byrne.
"So it's going to be very, very difficult and trying times for everybody and we are all going to miss the football but at the end of the day, health is more important than anything in this world.
"We all have to just look after each other and abide by the Department of Health guidelines and hopefully if we all do that and respect it, we'll be back on the pitches of Dublin and Ireland in the near future."
Conan Byrne's GoFundMe page will remain open until Thursday evening so there is still time to donate by clicking this link.
You can also make a €4 donation to the Irish Cancer Society by texting the word 'CANCER' 50300.
The HSE has also published guidelines for people who may be struggling with the mental health issues at this time, which can be found at this link.