Support for McGrath is really massive

When we see our top GAA stars performing every week they have the appearance of men who are indestructible and healthy. Little do we know the challenges they may be facing!

When we see our top GAA stars performing every week they have the appearance of men who are indestructible and healthy. Little do we know the challenges they may be facing!

Former Waterford star, Ken McGrath retired from the inter-county scene during the 2011 National League but he has been active with his club since he hung up the Waterford jersey.

People have varying views on which position best suited McGrath. Defensively he was majestic at centre-back. Images of the Mount Sion player soaring like a salmon to pluck the sliotar from the air adorn many a photo album. He was also an outstanding attacker and while operating at centre-forward made life difficult for every opponent.

He was physically strong and ultra-brave, often to the detriment of his own well-being. He was an iconic figure as he endeared himself to Waterford followers everywhere. He was universally admired.

For the past few months McGrath has endured his biggest challenge. He underwent major heart surgery and spent weeks in hospital. He is now recuperating at home and the news regarding his well-being is encouraging.

After consultation with the McGrath family a committee has been formed to set up and administer ‘The Ken McGrath Rehabilitation Fund’ in support of Ken’s recovery. The committee, in conjunction with the GPA Past Players Advisory Board, Mount Sion GAA club, Club Déise, Waterford County Board and former county players have decided to hold a benefit game on Ken’s behalf on Friday, June 27 in Walsh Park.

The game will feature a Leinster and Munster selection which will include many former All-Stars and other legends. The response from the players has been superb, hardly surprising given the esteem in which all would have held Ken McGrath.

The Leinster selection will be captained by Kilkenny’s, Eddie Brennan. He is sure to be joined by many former Kilkenny All-Stars Noel Hickey, Michael Kavanagh and Martin Comerford. Don’t be surprised if D.J. Carey is there too.

Waterford’s John Mullane will captain the Munster selection which will feature the recently retired Tony Browne, Dan Shanahan and Eoin Kelly. It is expected that Cork will supply many players.

To add spice to the occasion, the Leinster selection will be managed by Brian Cody and the Munster selection by Davy Fitzgerald.

After the game the players will head to the Mount Sion club where a series of interviews plus a question and answer session will be held regarding this year’s championship.

The organising committee is keen to stress that their fund-raising efforts will start and conclude on June 27. It is worth noting that Ken McGrath has insisted that a substantial donation should be made from the proceeds of the two functions to the Irish Heart Foundation.

The fund-raising events were formally launched in Waterford last week. While the focus will principally be on drawing support from all areas of Waterford, Ken McGrath’s legendary status will see hurling followers travelling to support the event from all parts of Ireland.

If you cannot attend and wish to make a donation you can do so at any Permanent TSB Branch – Account No. 23053903 – Sort Code 99-06-32.

When mentioning fund-raising it is worth noting that the Kilkenny Hurlers Co-Op Draw is in its 32nd year. Tickets were recently distributed to all clubs. The draw has been an important source of revenue for clubs, and also for the County Board.

In the booklet accompanying this year’s tickets County Board chairman, Ned Quinn noted that the Hurlers Co-Op Draw continues to make a major contribution to the financing of club playing facilities, and also assists with the funding of a variety of development initiatives such as the building of additional dressing rooms and pavilion facilities, floodlighting and walkways.