Loughnane praise for charity duel
"IT'S brilliant to be alive!" So said a typically ebullient Ger Loughnane at yesterday's launch of the Charity Football Match, one of the most novel and noteworthy Gaelic games fundraisers of more recent times.
The former Clare hurling manager-turned RTé pundit knows, better than most, the meaning of that five-word affirmation, having battled back to full health from a leukaemia diagnosis in 2011. Loughnane was in Portlaoise – along with fellow GAA stars, past and present, and some fellow cancer survivors too – as GAA president Liam O'Neill launched the Charity Match, to be staged in O'Moore Park next May.
The event will raise funds for the cancer units at St Luke's and St James's hospitals but arguably its most important function will be to raise awareness that a cancer diagnosis doesn't have to be death sentence.
The brainchild of cancer survivor Richard Poole, the match will involve players affected by the disease, highlighting that you can remain active even while receiving cancer treatment.
Among yesterday's speakers was John McGrath, the Wicklow footballer who – like Loughnane – overcame leukaemia in 2011 and didn't stop there, achieving his goal of winning a place back on the county football team.
McGrath will captain the St James's team next May while Poole will skipper the St Luke's selection.
The two managers will be the legendary Mick O'Dwyer and the equally decorated Brian Cody, disproving the notion (for once) that Kilkenny folk don't do football!