Ger battles back from illness and returns to TV
HE'S faced a number of months on the sidelines battling a life-threatening blood disorder. But GAA hurling legend Ger Loughnane says he is back to his best and is preparing to return to work.
The former Clare hurling manager was diagnosed in June last year with a serious strain of leukaemia. He finished his last round of intensive treatment at St James's Hospital, Dublin, in early December. He says he feels back to his best and is relishing the challenges that lie ahead when he rejoins RTE's panel for the coverage of the upcoming championship.
"I enjoy doing the games for a number of reasons. The biggest reason is that it's great to have the challenge and be back on the TV again, which I find very exciting. All the weight is back on again and I feel back to my best," he told the Irish Independent last night.
Mr Loughnane made his name as a player with the Banner County in the 1970s and 80s, winning two All-Star awards.
He went on to lead Clare to their first All-Ireland title in 81 years in 1995, before repeating the achievement two years later.
Having faced many tough opponents in his life, the 59-year-old said nothing compared with the battle he faced overcoming the potentially lethal blood disorder.
"It's been tough at times but I'm feeling back to full strength and I'm off all the medication. When I finished treatment I was very, very weak and lost an awful lot of weight. It took a while for my body to recover and regain the strength I had before."
Mr Loughnane, who recently took early retirement from his job as a national school principal in Shannon, Co Clare, says he is enjoying the simple pleasures in life following his recent brush with death.
"I took the Croke Park Agreement; I don't think there are any principals my age left in our county. When I left the hospital for the last time, I was out hunting the following Sunday. I'm really enjoying my life at the moment."
'The Sunday Game' is back on May 20, with live coverage of the Connacht SFC clash between Roscommon and Galway. This season will also see Marty Morrissey present a new GAA discussion show, 'Championship Matters', on Thursday evenings.