Thank you Tipperary! One supporters A-Z of the first Sunday in September.

As one of the thousands of thrilled Tipperary supporters, here’s a quick A-Z of what I experienced and felt on All Ireland Final Day!

A: A-game: On the biggest stage of them all, Tipperary delivered their finest performance. All the ingredients needed for a breathtaking performance surfaced right when required most.

B: Brendan & Borris: The name of Brendan Maher will be added to the mural of victorious All Ireland senior captains in Stapleton’s in the centre of Borrisoleigh. No more fitting tribute for a man who wears maroon & white and blue & gold with such distinction.

C: Chaplins: The destination of many Tipperary supporters post-match to mingle among fellow Tipperary friends, old and new, and celebrate no. 27.

D: Desperation:  In the greatest sense of the word, yesterday was a performance of desperation delivered by Tipperary. Players and supporters craved the victory and it was so duly delivered.

E: Eamon: E is for Eamon. His handprint was all over the performance yesterday. Skill, movement and fluidity combined for a forward display that was the hallmark of players coached and mentored by Eamon O Shea.

F: Full-forwards: What else can be said about the line who registered more than the opposition on All-Ireland final day?

G: Gleeson: The elder statesman of the team and the last line of defence. Laser-like arrows the foundation of much of the mesmerising Tipp play!

H: Hurt: The players mentioned the levels of hurt endured so far this decade. Yesterday should go a long way to easing it!

I: Intent: From the moment Ronan Maher soared into the sky to fetch a puck out over Richie Hogan, you could see the statement of intent.

J: Joy. The unbridled feeling for the players, management and supporters that greeted the final whistle on the first Sunday in September.

K: Kilruane. Guess I’m biased but I don’t care! A great day for the club and for Bill, Jerry, Cian and Billy as more men are added to the club roll of honour.

L: Loughmore: Another famous day for the dual Mid-Tipperary club as the McGraths times 3 bring All-Ireland medals back to the green and red of Loughmore.

M: Minors: The guys who set the tone for the day by bringing home Part 1 of a magical Double Act!

N: Newcomers: The role played by the 5 newcomers to the Tipp senior side this year was a major factor in bringing Liam back to the Premier.

O: Ovation: From my vantage point in the Cusack Stand, the minors of Tipp and Limerick, the team of ’91, Brian Gavin and his team and the seniors all received well-deserved receptions from the supporters for jobs well done by one and all.

P: Party: Liam McCarthy always has a party when he visits the Premier. 2016 will be no different!

Q: Quality: This squad had it in spades. As players.  As people.

R: Redemption: After the previous final defeats to Kilkenny, r is for a bunch of guys who redeemed themselves in 2016.

S: Well what could S be for other than Seamie. Has there been a better individual forward display in an All Ireland final in Croke Park? I can’t recall it anyways!

T: Tipp, Tipp, Tipp: The chant that reverberated around Croke Park on a day to remember for all Tipperary supporters!

U: Unrelenting: Led by the players and ably backed by the thousands of Tipp supporters, the boys in blue and gold powered right to the final shrill of Brian Gavin’s whistle..

V: Cormac ‘The Viking‘ Bonnar was the warrior full forward honoured as a member of the team of ’91. I’d hate to have been a full back seeing him stride toward the edge of the square!

W: Winning. Well what else are finals for?

X: X-rated: Bubbles’ post-match slip….

Y: Yesssssssssss: Arms outstretched and the simple 3-letter cry around Croke Park to greet victory!

Z: Zzzz’s. Catching a few winks are the furthest thing from the mind of players and supporters celebrating this wonderful victory. And so it should be!

Do no himreoirí Tiobraid Arainn, go raibh míle míle maith agat mar is é an chead Dé Domhnaigh i mí Meán Fomhair dhá mhíle agus a sé déag in aghaidh an lae ní  bheidh muid dearmad!

Tiobraid Arainn abú!

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World Mental Health Day- Our story.

Today October 10th has been designated as World Mental Health Day and it for me is an apt and appropriate time to share some thoughts and pen some words on something I feel very strongly about. Let me start with a story:

A couple of weeks back I received emails from 2 brave sisters who had very recently lost their father to suicide. They were going through a range of conflicting emotions, as one does when someone close to them is lost to suicide, from anger to guilt, relief to reflection and many more in between. They wrote to me to say that some of what I had written previously had helped provide some context and understanding for their fathers death. Naturally I felt so fortunate and lucky to think I could help them in some small way.

Reflecting on their message, it made me think of the value and bravery of people telling their own story and the impact it can have for other people. Slowly but surely, Irish men and women are seeing the importance of individual stories in helping to break the stigma of mental health in Ireland. All of our stories cannot be underestimated in their importance.

Many of us will have read of Conor Cusack, Jim Breen, Bressie and Alan O Mara to name but a few and the impact their journey’s have had on the Mental Health discourse in Ireland today.

It warms my heart to see how the movement to encourage people, especially men and boys, to talk about their mental health is growing at pace. Mental health awareness talks, events and fundraisers are springing up by the day in Ireland and different strands of society are coming together to share resources and knowledge in order to create a culture where people feel OK to express how they feel inside.

One example, among the many, is a partnership launching tomorrow between the Gaelic Players Association (GPA) and Ashoka Ireland to see how intercounty GAA players can assist Ashoka with their Social Innovation programmes across young children, middle aged society and the elderly. It is incredibly exciting to think what can be achieved when you pair committed people with great ideas.

Another story that reinforces my belief that Ireland’s attitude to mental health is changing permanently for the better can be related to a single 5 minutes on September 12th this year. At the Cycle Against Suicide Ambassador Schools awards, a young lady name Caroline Leetch spoke as one of the School Ambassadors. I was blown away by her. The clarity with which she spoke, her understanding of what Cycle Against Suicide means and why it exists and the maturity of her words on a sensitive topic highlighted to me how incredible our young Irish people are when we give them a cause to care about and a structure to flourish within. Cycle Against Suicide will continue to grow and save people’s lives because of girls and boys like Caroline all over Ireland spreading the importance of talking and encouraging help-seeking behavior.

Whilst today is World Mental Health Day and a great way to raise awareness, it is vital to remember that mental health struggles are not confined to particular days or times of the day. People can be struggling internally at any time, particularly when the external facade appears strong. So it’s vitally important that we continue to talk when things are not well, that we are available to listen to others who are fighting a battle and that we too seek help if we haven’t the answers for our friends. None of us have all the answers but so long as we have the desire and commitment to help each other, answers can always be found.

All I would say is to reflect on the story of your own life, the good bits and the rest, because yours can be the story that helps someone see a chink of light. And what greater contribution can any of us make in our lives than to help another flourish.

Spread your story, listen to people, encourage them and talk when all is not well.

Beir bua agus beannacht,


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Pieta House ‘Mind Our Men’ GAA awareness night

Hey all, 

Back on November 8th 2013 I tweeted about the idea of hosting an awareness night for GAA clubs in North Tipperary in association with the Pieta House ‘Mind Our Men’ campaign. The ‘Mind Our Men’ campaign is a worthy initiative aimed at reducing male suicide in Ireland but it will only help if clubs engage and make use of the knowledge and skills Pieta House provides. Together we can all help prevent 8 men dying by suicide every week in Ireland. This is 8 men too many, you will agree?

Helping people is not of course limited to associations or groups, we can give our help to anyone in this world.

On the night a Pieta House representative will deliver a presentation on helping to equip people with the skills required to notice men who are struggling and require some help in order to get things back on track in their lives and avoid bringing a permanent end to their struggles. It will be a positive event designed to ensure people in their local community can help others in their local community. Through people coming together and helping their own, our communities will grow stronger and be a better place for us all to lead our lives. 

The sole aim of the event and why I want it to go ahead, is so that people help other people in their locality. 

With this in mind, it would be great to know if the interest is there among hurling/Gaelic football and camogie clubs in North Tipperary to attend such an event?

I would envisage at least 3 people from each club attending in order to bring a diversity of thought from within each club. The input and attendance of camogie clubs will be crucial also as our women play as equal a role in helping men open up and speak about the challenges they are facing or the worries they find overwhelming.  

So, I would ask people/clubs who may be interested in attending or would like further information to contact me via the following: You can reply to this blog post, email me on or tweet me @fezfez121

A date, time and location will be agreed upon once we see the interest levels among our clubs. However, I would tentatively offer a timeframe of 3-4 weeks from now for the event to take place. 

Please feel free to share this post on all social media platforms to help raise awareness and see can we get all 19 GAA clubs in North Tipperary and beyond to attend perhaps. Here’s hoping…………………… 🙂 





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The Future?

Tonight in an English hotel room, I write as a young, disillusioned Irish man. I sit here confused and sad about the future for many men and women my age in Ireland. I am trying to figure out whether our Government have given young people a kick up the arse to say get out to work or helped them to book that one way ticket on Skyscanner. What do you think?

In today’s budget the Government have decided to reduce social welfare by 30% for young people.  So any new entrant receiving benefits between 18-24 years of age will get €100 per week from January 2014. For many, the price of a night out in Dublin.  

What message does this give to the future of our country? Get up and go? Work harder to find that job? The NYCI say that 177,000 have left our shores since 2008 and our youth unemployment stands at 30.8% currently. Decisions like those made today are going to ensure we stay getting Facebook notifications inviting us to the latest ‘Going Away Party’ for the foreseeable future!

But aside from statistics, what message are our leaders sending young people? Are they inspiring hope? Giving young people something to cling onto in order to stay in Ireland? Hardly.  I believe it will further marginalise young people from engaging with politics and governance, not exactly a relationship that needs any reason to drift further apart! Perhaps the Government saw people in their 20’s as an easy target?  We all know young people are not the important demographic when it comes to garnering votes. Young people are also unlikely to mobilise in very large numbers to protest. (However I am encouraged to read of a protest beginning at 5pm on Wednesday in opposition to the cuts.)

What young people (and the not so young) need in Ireland today is a message of hope. A message that people believe. I’m not full of hope and belief after today’s Budget. Rather, I believe I’ll be saying goodbye to more of my friends who will head to foreign lands to build a sustainable future! Could you blame them? Youth services have been cut by approx. 30% since 2008 around Ireland, education is getting more expensive, jobs scarcer.

Is today’s announcement the final nail in the coffin for many? I hope not but I expect plenty will pack up and board that plane. And what a shame! We are losing young, savvy, ambitious, creative people. The heartbeat of many villages stripped away. Sports and social clubs countrywide losing the people they need to sustain their very future.

Do I have answers to keep these people? Not really right now. (Though I would love to engage in some way with other young people who want to come up with answers!) I commute weekly myself to the UK for work at the moment. I spent from February until April on Social Welfare and it wasn’t an enjoyable experience by any means. Full of nerves and tension completing application forms and job interviews to try and get a foot on the bottom rung of the corporate ladder. Keeping a budget of outgoings to make sure spending was on a tight leash. Having Match of the Day as company rather than a pint of stout among friends.

Hopefully these few words will get you thinking about Ireland. About what sort of a country it is for young and old? Is our recovery going to be driven by our youth or will they contribute to the development of Perth and Toronto, Christchurch and Canberra instead? Will decisions like those made today mobilise more young Irish people to think, and then to act, about the role we can play in the future development of our country?  To direct the path Ireland goes down? One of my heroines is Camila Vallejo, a Chilean girl who led protests for better access to education for students in her country, a girl who decided to take action for a better future for young people in her country.

Mol an óige agus tiocfaidh sí, as the old Irish proverb goes. Not very apt tonight. 

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Tour de Picnic 2013

Today some friends and I signed up to partake in the Tour de Picnic 2013 with The cycle takes place on Friday August 30 beginning in Dublin with Electric Picnic in Stradbally co.Laois the final destination. As I had a ticket for the Picnic already, I couldn’t see a better way of beginning the weekend than by raising much needed funds on behalf of two great causes. 

The 2013 beneficiaries of the cycle are LauraLynn House and Thank You Crumlin, Love Mia. Both of these are very worthy beneficiaries you must agree and will benefit hugely from the money raised. 

LauraLynn House opened in September 2011 and supports children with life-limiting conditions and is Ireland’s only childrens hospice. Thank You Crumlin, Love Mia is a charity set up by 12 year old Mia Keaveney to raise funds for a new orthopaedic unit in Crumlin Hospital where she is a patient.

Two very very worthy causes to raise both awareness and funds for I think you will agree.

You will find much more information on both below: 

As regards fundraising, I simply want to raise as much as possible. I’m well aware of the financial position many people find themselves in currently and know that raising money is difficult right now. However, these are two very worthy causes and any donation, no matter how large or small, will be well received and put to great use. I would appeal to your altruistic sense and know that in giving to these causes, you are helping to make life easier for some very ill children and their families. I have no connection with either charity apart from wanting to raise money on their behalf and help the children’s lives in any way I can.  

So please do donate. Any amount is more than nothing and will help some really deserving children and their families. 

You can find my donation page here:

Finally,thanks for reading. Just remember, your hard-earned money you donate will make a real difference to the lives of a sick child and their family in Ireland somewhere.

What a nice way to help eh……..     

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Overcoming Obstacles

“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place. And I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there if you let it. You, me or nobody is going to hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward.” Rocky Balboa


At some stage or other many of us will understand what Rocky means in the above quote. Life isn’t a simple stroll in the sun for us, it’s tough going and it presents obstacles in our path all the time. Dealing with and overcoming these obstacles isn’t easy but far from impossible. There are different ways to deal with our own individual obstacles and I’ll simply give some ideas that I use in my own case.

For the past 2 years, I have had a knee injury that has left me missing pretty much all of the 2011, 2012 and most of the 2013 GAA seasons and feeling a lot of discomfort in day to day living. I have undergone surgery twice previously (and am having some more minor surgery again this week) to try and cure the problem. I have had times where I’d experience pain when simply walking around at home and the injury has become a constant in my life for the last 27 months. As a result I have had to work on overcoming this obstacle, both in the physical sense through rehabilitation exercises, and mentally by employing coping mechanisms to ensure I continue to get better.

Now, I know that many people are suffering much worse than I am, and that I am extremely lucky in comparison to what some people have to deal with, but I can only offer my own experience of dealing with my obstacle, much like every person can only explain their own situation.

So what are the ways I used to try overcome my obstacle?

Well surrounding yourself with good people is vital. Whether your obstacle is physical, mental or otherwise, being around people who support you, offers you guidance, listens to you and stays positive is critical to overcome any obstacle.

Living in the present moment is critical also. Overcoming obstacles require you to deal with the situation as it is right now, not in the past or into the future, right now in the present. You have to take responsibility for what you can control. You can control your mindset every day towards the problem. You can control your attitude: Do you set small improvement goals or do you apportion blame for your problem elsewhere. Do you seek out the opportunities that lie in your obstacle or feel despondent about the opportunities it takes away?

You have to be resilient. In the face of difficult times, you must work to survive and thrive.  This is hard work, but showing resilience is really important in overcoming the problems you face.

I’m not the only person who ever hurt their knee, and you’re unlikely to be the only person ever who faced the obstacle your facing, so how you deal with the challenge is the important thing. Ultimate success in overcoming the obstacle is determined by your attitude to it.

In 2001 South African swimmer Natalie du Toit lost her left leg below the knee when a car hit her on her scooter. A major problem for a swimmer you’ll agree. In 2002, just 1 year later, she swam the 800-meter freestyle in the Commonwealth Games alongside able-bodied athletes without the aid of a prosthetic limb. Her attitude certainly helped her overcome her physical limitations. There are loads more examples of people overcoming incredible obstacles. One thing they’ll have in common is their attitude to dealing with the obstacle. Stephen Hawking is another who springs to mind; the incredible obstacles placed in his path didn’t stop him having a major influence on the science and mathematics world.

Attitude is key when overcoming obstacles. You either decide to tackle it head on and overcome it step by step or as Rocky says, you can get beat to your knees and stay there if you let it.

Overcoming obstacles is not easy for any of us. If it were, there would be no such thing as struggle or pain.  Life isn’t lived in such a fantasyland however. We have to be strong in order to move forward. Surrounding myself with good people, living in the present as much as possible, being resilient, having the attitude that I will overcome it and staying positive helps me keep moving forward.

I’d be thrilled if it helped you to do likewise. 

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The Value of Values

The African-American minister and human rights activist Malcolm X once said  “A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything” and this set me thinking about the question of values and the role they play in our lives. How important is it today to live your life based around the values you hold dearly? Do values hold sway in todays increasingly materialistic world? Do people even still live based around values? What are your values?

To me values are the core of the person we are. Our values are what we believe in and what we stand up for. If you ask yourself the question “Who am I?”, at the deeper level the response should be the values you hold dearly as a person. I hold the belief that you are who you are regardless of context, company or culture. Is it fair to assume that the values you hold dear are only true values if you practice them to all you meet?

For example, if kindness is a truly important value in your life, then mustn’t you strive to be kind to all people you meet or have relations with? Otherwise your just a fraud aren’t you? Being kind to one person because it suits and possibly benefits you is not the same as holding kindness as a true value in your life. Being a kind person and acting in a kind manner are not necessarily the same thing are they?

Living via your values is essentially about finding out who you are at your core. Who the person is when you look in the mirror. In today’s world where image and perception are seemingly more important than reality and our lives are scrutinized more than ever, it takes guts to stand up for what you believe in even if the view of the crowd isn’t the same.

But if we don’t stand up for what we believe in, then who are we? The nature of peer pressure means it is tough sometimes to go against the grain and risk being an outlier. Alas, if you consider it important to live in accordance with the values you hold dearly, this is the risk you take. And consistently take.

For me, much of Celtic Tiger Ireland was lived in a materialistic bubble and now we pay the price for a complete disregard of values-based leadership. Our desire for more ruled supreme. More profits, more houses, more cars, more holidays, more clothes, more money, more debt and ultimately more hardship. Ireland inc. never stopped to think of the hangover that a concoction of greed and power would leave us with.

Our values are our guiding principles in life and our guiding principles form our character. And when all is said and done, your character is the most important asset you own.

Believing in something, and standing up for this belief means being true to oneself. Being true is being honest.

I hope this post leaves you with plenty of questions. The answers aren’t simple but then life isn’t. What value do you place on your values? There’s only one person who can answer that question for us.

So hold values, stand up for something, believe in it and as Oscar Wilde put it, “Be yourself, everyone else is taken”.

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