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Thursday 22 February 2018

Cup filled to overflowing with stars of tomorrow

Breda Heffernan

IT'S more of a snug fit than Sam, but no fewer than three babies managed to wedge themselves into the Liam MacCarthy Cup yesterday -- although not all at the same time.

The victorious Tipperary players showed off the glistening silverware to young patients at Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin, Dublin, before departing from the capital and making their way home.

It was fitting that first in the cup was little 11-month-old Martin Gleeson, whose mother Karen commutes from their home in Gortnahoe in Co Tipperary to the hospital for her work as a nurse each day.

There was slightly more wriggle room for nine-month-old Danny Walsh from Cloughjordan, who was decked out in what must be the smallest Tipp jersey ever made.

Meanwhile, at just four weeks old, tiny Rhys Winters from Ballyfermot -- the first Dubliner to get his hands on Liam in decades -- was practically swimming in the silverware.

Each emerged from the cup as fragrant as he went in with not a whiff of booze, despite what must have been a raucous night of celebrations for the Tipperary team. In fact, the players all looked remarkably fresh faced yesterday morning as they arrived at the hospital with a garda escort. They spent almost two hours touring the wards talking to children, posing for photographs and signing countless autographs.

Captain Eoin Kelly said he hoped some of the boys and girls he met might go on to captain their own county some day.

"Our success was built on massive positivity and belief because we've had our knocks along the way, been beaten and that; but if we can bring something positive to the kids today it's only great. I think in any walk of life, be it sport, be it sickness or in any field . . . I think positivity will bring you a long way," he added.

For Sean Nugent, vice-chairman of the county board, it was an emotional return to the hospital which had cared for his one-year-old grandson, Josh Veckers, for nine months last year.

"There was many a time that we thought he would never survive, that he wouldn't ever walk. But last Friday, he walked.

"He had a bone-marrow transplant here in this hospital and our family will never forget what this hospital did for him. He survived, he's walking and hopefully he'll pick up the hurley in a few years time," he added.

Irish Independent

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