Gaels of laugh­ter as a sport ral­lies to one of its own

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - THE TITLE - Michael Duig­nan THE VOICE OF HURL­ING

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:­foradamburke


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

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