By Dan Danaher
THE lack of basic facilities for patients, nurses and visitors in hospitals has prompted former Clare hurling manager, Ger Loughnane, to embark on a €40,000 fundraising campaign.
The hurling legend hopes to raise enough money to complete a revamp and modernisation of fittings, furnishings and equipment in the cancer units at University Hospital Limerick and at the Denis Burkitt Unit in St James’ Hospital in Dublin.
During his treatment for leukemia in both hospitals in recent years, the stark surroundings in most wards became very real and the need to take action a necessity.
“Cancer treatment is rarely easy and basic things like internet, a reasonably decent TV or even a comfortable chair to sit on would mean so much,” he said.
“The doctors, nurses and care staff do an amazing job but they are performing miracles against the odds. There is scarcely a family who hasn’t been affected by cancer and this event is the GAA’s opportunity to lead the way for cancer care, particularly in Clare, Limerick and Tipperary and recognise the reality of many people’s lives,” he said
This is a view shared by fellow cancer sufferer, Leonard McNamara from Clarecastle, who has joined Ger on this targeted campaign to make a difference in the uncertain lives of people who find themselves facing probably their greatest ever challenge.
“Ger and I agreed, when we decided to go this route, that the money we raise would provide current and future patients with a greater degree of comfort and care, while they are undergoing cancer treatment. It literally will be spent on the practical things a patient, family member or nursing staff need,” he said.
The two-day fundraiser, supported by Dublin Coach, which is headed up by Labasheeda man John O’Sullivan, will be held in Ennis on the weekend of May 23.
It will begin with a championship match preview at the West County Hotel in Ennis on Friday night and a full-strength Clare versus Dublin senior hurling challenge at Cusack Park on Saturday, May 24.
All of the proceeds from both events will be combined and given directly to the named beneficiaries, with the proviso as to how the money will be used.
At the specially organised championship match preview, hurling legends Brian Cody, Liam Sheedy, Richie Bennis, Anthony Daly and Davy Fitzgerald will discuss and debate the hurling season before an expected audience of 400 people. The host for the night will be RTÉs GAA correspondent, Marty Morrissey.
The event will also include a full sit-down dinner and musical entertainment by Regina Nathan, Martin O’Connor, Kate Purcell, Kieran McDermott and Jimmy Hynes.
As the championship season is set to begin, this match preview has all the potential to be a cracking night, with animated and varied debate, insightful and contentious analysis and no shortage of entertainment.
Into the mix goes the opportunity for questions from the floor, facilitated by Clare FM’s GAA match commentator, Syl O’Connor, which no doubt will add spice to the occasion and input from the rank and file.
Saturday’s Clare v Dublin Challenge Game is deemed a highly competitive game by managers Anthony Daly and Davy Fitzgerald and the organisers of the event call for a really good attendance. It is the last game that Clare and Dublin will play before the championship and is ‘no ordinary game’, according to hurling afficionados.
Maureen O’Grady, a clinical nurse manager at the Haematology/Oncology Unit in Limerick, said, “Equipment in our unit is in constant need of upgrading, to meet the highest standards of care and hygiene and that need has long outgrown the available accommodation in the unit”.
She stressed how invaluable this support would be, especially for the patients and their families, and at a difficult time in their lives “they deserve the best we can provide”.
Support from the Ger Loughnane Cancer Challenge fundraiser will also be provided to the Kilnamona-based Sláinte an Chláir/Clare Cancer Support initiative, which is affiliated to the Irish Cancer Society and recognised by the HSE.
It provides a broad range of services, including counselling, meditation and reflexology for cancer patients and their families, throughout the stages of their cancer journey.
According to chairperson Teresa Murrihy, 8,000 quality and safe services were provided in 2013.
Dublin Senior Hurling Manager and Clarecastle man Anthony Daly expressed how seriously Dublin are taking this unique inter-county hurling challenge.
“This is no stroll in the park, from my perspective. With three weeks out, at that stage, from the first Leinster championship match, I see this as a vital game and a tough test of championship players,’ he said.
“I am looking forward to bringing the Dublin team to Clare and to playing in Cusack Park, which I know will be in super condition at the end of May,” he added.
The team of ’95 will manage the turnstyles on the day. Further details can be obtained from Leonard McNamara on 087-2204819.