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Wig Name Signing Graham Whelan gave charity €750 cheque on behalf of Black Forge football team

Graham 'The Wig' Whelan, who is a member of the Black Forge football team, recently posed for a picture with his teammates as he handed over a cheque for €750 to the Stronger Together charity.

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Graham 'Wig' Whelan (R)

Graham 'Wig' Whelan (R)

Graham 'Wig' Whelan (R)

A HOMELESS charity last night expressed shock that a cheque they were presented with on behalf of Conor McGregor's Black Forge pub football team was from a notorious Kinahan cartel criminal.

Graham 'The Wig' Whelan, who is a member of the Black Forge football team, recently posed for a picture with his teammates as he handed over a cheque for €750 to the Stronger Together charity.

Whelan (39) is one of Dublin's most infamous gangland figures and is currently awaiting sentencing on money-laundering charges.

"Jeez, we didn't know that. We don't ask questions, if someone is good enough to give us money to help homeless we just take it, that's it," Trevor Conlan, chairman of Stronger Together, told the Sunday World.

In July, Whelan pleaded guilty today to laundering €3,415 and to possession of cocaine, cannabis and a high-end watch at a south Dublin hotel.

He is due back before the Special Criminal Court in November 15 for sentencing.

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The Black Forge Inn football team

The Black Forge Inn football team

The Black Forge Inn football team

Whelan was close pals with cartel figure David Byrne, who was shot dead in the Regency Hotel bloodbath in February 2016 and was also central to the drugs bust that led to the bitter Crumlin/Drimnagh feud breaking out in 2001.

The Wig was just a teenager when he was caught with €1.5 million worth of cocaine and ecstasy in the Holiday Inn in March 2000. He was jailed for six years for his role and remanined heavily involved in drug dealing following his release.

He became a key figure in the Kinahan Cartel's operations in Ireland and was one of Thomas 'Bomber' Kavanagh's most trusted lieutenants. But despite his history of criminality, Whelan showed a more caring side by raising cash for the respected homeless charity.

'The Wig' has previously appeared in photographs with McGregor - and the pair share a number of childhood friends.

But in 2017, the notoriously publicity-shy Whelan shot into worldwide headlines when reports went viral that one of The Wig's associates had been caught up in a pub fracas with champion Conor McGregor.

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Conor McGregor pictured at the Black Forge ladies final in Irishtown stadium recently.

Conor McGregor pictured at the Black Forge ladies final in Irishtown stadium recently.

Conor McGregor pictured at the Black Forge ladies final in Irishtown stadium recently.

Fans had taken to social media in a frenzy fearing that McGregor's antics meant he had fallen foul of the mob and The Wig was fast becoming a household name.

The story even made it onto US news websites and was a nightmare for paranoid Whelan who had even banned members of his family and friends from putting any of his pictures on social media.

However, there was never any trouble between McGregor and Whelan, who were pictured partying together weeks afterwards.

MMA star McGregor is a huge supporter for the Black Forge football teams.

The Sunday World can reveal how both the Black Forge men's and ladies' teams - which includes Whelan - are being ferried around in a top of the range new coach the UFC star has bought for them, at a cost of over €150,000.

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The Black Forge Inn bus

The Black Forge Inn bus

The Black Forge Inn bus

McGregor is pictured here in his first public appearance in Ireland this year when we snapped him yesterday at the Teresa Healy Ladies Cup final in Irishtown, Dublin, at which his Black Forge side was defeated by St Patrick's CYFC.

The fighter arrived late in the second half, driving his Bentley, and was accompanied by his partner Dee Devlin. Wearing a blue check jacket and open neck shirt, McGregor mixed freely with fans watching the game on a hill to the side of the main stand.

He put his arm around Dee during the game and posed for photos with several kids afterwards.

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Conor McGregor and Dee Devlin

Conor McGregor and Dee Devlin

Conor McGregor and Dee Devlin

The game had already been delayed by half an hour during the second half when a spectator collapsed on the sideline and had to be tended to by paramedics, who used a defibrillator on him and then rushed him to hospital by ambulance.

About 500 supporters turned up to cheer on the teams, and some of the players were giddy beforehand as they anticipated McGregor's possible arrival.

After the game McGregor is believed to have thrown a free bar in his Black Forge pub.

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Conor McGregor at the Black Forge ladies final in Irishtown stadium

Conor McGregor at the Black Forge ladies final in Irishtown stadium

Conor McGregor at the Black Forge ladies final in Irishtown stadium

He had spent the previous evening at the Crumlin venue and even parked his Bentley car outside the pub which was previously named The Bentley - he has christened his VIP room the same name in honour of both.

McGregor and Dee, the mother of his three children, popped into the Black Forge on Thursday as well, which was his first visit to the pub he has spent €3 million on since it has been allowed reopen to the public in the wake of the pandemic.

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Conor McGregor at the Black Forge ladies final in Irishtown stadium

Conor McGregor at the Black Forge ladies final in Irishtown stadium

Conor McGregor at the Black Forge ladies final in Irishtown stadium

The 33-year-old and his family arrived back in Ireland on Wednesday, having spent almost nine months out of the country since early January in Dubai, Portugal, America and lately Italy, and made their way to their mansion near Straffan, Co. Kildare.

Speaking to the Sunday World, Stronger Together boss Conlan described the charity's work: "Basically, what we do is we have contracts with the likes of Marks and Spencer, Lidl, Aldi, Tesco, then we collect the food and then we drop it out to the tables around Dublin that needs it and then we put food hampers together for people that have homes, living in houses, but are up to their necks with mortgages and bills and can't afford to do it," he tells us.

"This was our first time with the Black Forge. I think their football team organised a charity event and gave a few cheques. We get the phone number off the person and actually that money itself was spent on sleeping bags, tents, stockings, jocks, hats and scarves. We sent all the receipts on to that guy and it was done.

"We have been going since Covid. We were feeding about 350 people a night in town. But it just got too much trying to organise security, food and so on, so we just pulled back and just supply the tables now."

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