Saturday 18 January 2020

GAA pals raise over €70k for 'genuine and committed' player left fighting for life after J1 accident

Philip Leahy
Philip Leahy

Claire Fox

A local community has raised more than €70,000 for a young J1 student left fighting for his life following a swimming accident in the US.

Philip Leahy (22) from Ballyhooly, Co Cork suffered an apparent cardiac arrest when he got into difficulty, while swimming with his friends on Wednesday morning, on a beach in Ocean City, Maryland.

Philip is currently in a serious condition in Atlantic General Hospital and his family are keeping a vigil by his bedside.

Last year Philip captained his local GAA club, Ballyhooly, Co Cork to win their first ever Junior B Football title. Pa O' Connor, the team's goalkeeper, set up a fundraiser to help cover Philip's medical costs in the US. 

He told that Philip is the "most genuine and committed" player and that the community are "devastated" by what has happened.

He said Philip is "the first to turn up for training every week and has great heart. He's a real crowd favourite."

"The whole community is devastated. Everything has come to a standstill. We're just trying to stay positive. We won't admit defeat."

The campaign has already raised more than €72,000. While €80,000 is the target, Pa said that there's no limit when it comes to helping Philip.

"We only started it yesterday evening. The medical costs in the US are so high, so we know that this is one way that we can make a difference. We've been blown away by everyone's generosity. €60,000 is the target but it's hard to put a number on it, there is no limit when it comes to Philip."

"Philip has a mountain to climb but he's a fighter and if anybody can pull through he will. Please God he'll be OK and we'll keep working hard for him and his family here."

The community held a vigil for the CIT student last week. According to Pa over 300 people turned up and it's a testament to how popular Philip and his family are.

"Over 300 people turned up and we only sent word of that out over text. It just shows how popular Philip and his family are. I've known him for a long time and went to school with him and his family. You couldn't meet a nicer lad," he said.

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