Gaels of laughter as a sport rallies to one of its own
I’VE talked many times about how the GAA comes together in adversity and the fundraiser for Adam Burke last weekend was another moving testimony to that.
His story is a heartwrenching one. Playing in a Kildare club football match for Two Mile House in the summer of 2016, he shipped a knock in the first half. His father Willie was at the match and caught his 20-year-old son’s eye on the field at a stage in the second half.
Right then, he had that natural instinct that something was not quite right. Not long after, Adam fell to the ground. Willie knew instinctively that it was serious, recognised that he had had a stroke.
Emergency services brought him to Naas General Hospital and then on to Beaumont Hospital where he was only given a small chance of survival.
Here was a very talented young player who scored 2-2 in the 2014 All-Ireland junior final, the youngest of a family of seven, at death’s door. It was a massively traumatic time for the Burke family.
To see the footage of him completing the 5km run with his team-mates last weekend was very emotional. His recovery has been truly inspirational – a word that is used all too flippantly at times – but there is a long way to go. Adam is still paralysed on one side, and his speech is very badly affected. So the fundraiser was part of a process to try and raise €1million to look after his ongoing treatment.
Around 3,000 people did the run with contributions coming in all the time which shows how the GAA community has rallied around.
A barbecue followed at the clubhouse where a big marquee was added on to house an infamous sort of crew. To round off the evening, I was invited to take part in a question and answer session hosted by Marty Morrissey in a combustible line-up that included Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald.
And it didn’t take long for the ball to be thrown in, for the headline-grabbing head-to-head between Davy and myself during the summer to be brought up.
Sure I’d had the chat with him beforehand over the lovely bit of food that was laid on. There was a bit of slagging over his appearance on Living with Lucy, and we shook hands.
We might have very different and very strong opinions on the sweeper system in hurling but there was no animosity. We had a difference of opinion − that was all. The context of where we were was a good reminder of how to keep a sense of perspective.
Marty tried to put a structure on things when it came to the panel discussion − all but impossible when Joe Brolly is on the panel as well. Brolly told Marty that he was representing me, to answer no questions at all. Plead the fifth.
When we were joined by Conor Sketches, it really took off. A brilliant impersonator, his take on the whole thing brought the house down. There he was taking off Davy and Brolly who were both in flying form and lapping it up.
Marty asked him − in Davy mode − about burying the hatchet with me and the response was, ‘Right in your f**kin’ back!’
Brolly was busy telling Marty that he turned him into a sex symbol with his previous on-air slag about him. Al Foran, another comedian and impressionist, was there as well, and it really was one of the great nights. There was a brilliant warmth in the room, all for the Burke family.
Johnny Doyle of Kildare was there.
Tomás Ó Sé travelled up too to support it – he was due to lineout, at 39, for Nemo Rangers the next day in a Cork senior football semi-final.
Living in Naas, I would have known about Adam’s situation previously. I was genuinely humbled to be asked. And the family and club got it so right with the whole day.
The fact that he was so young and fit kept him alive. He seems to have an incredible spirit and every club in Kildare rowed in behind him.
Everyone wishes him the best in his continued recovery.
To anyone interested in making a donation, go to: www.gofundme.com/runforadamburke
SUPPORT: Joe Brolly, Marty Morrissey, Tomas O Se, Adam Burke, Davy Fitzgerald, Johnny Doyle and Michael Duignan at the Adam Burke Fundraiser with a host of GAA Stars at Two Mile House