Friday 20 September 2019

Help is needed for young Johnny, so please do your bit

On The Line

Alan Aherne

Anyone with even a passing knowledge of Wexford hurling history during the 1970s and 1980s will be familiar with the exploits of Johnny Murphy.

A will o' the wisp forward for the most part, small in stature but blessed with pace and skill in equal measure, the Crossabeg-Ballymurn clubman also had that special quality that can never be coached, as you either have it or you don't.

I'm referring to the drive and determination to succeed that can only come from deep within. I always formed the impression that Johnny had that in spades when I watched him play, and later on when he turned his attention to coaching a number of club teams around the county as he patrolled the sidelines like a coiled spring.

For those unfamiliar with his exploits, he played at right half-forward in the All-Ireland Under-21 final of 1973, the Senior decider three years later, and the All-Ireland Junior final of 1987.

He was also left corner-forward for the All-Ireland Senior final of 1977 and the National League final of 1982, while he came on in the National League decider in 1984, with the centenary year marking the last of his 22 championship appearances for Wexford.

Johnny's eldest son, also named Johnny, inherited his father's skill and played with the Wexford hurlers at Minor level in 1994 and 1995, showing his versatility by lining out in goal first and then at left corner-forward the following year.

While Johnny Junior's playing days are over, the Murphy name continues to figure prominently in what is truly a golden era for Crossabeg-Ballymurn. His brothers, Barry and Niall, played vital roles in their 2014 victories in both codes, while David was unfortunate to pick up a serious injury mid-season which ruled him out for the big games.

Why am I devoting this column to the Murphys you may well ask? The wider G.A.A. family has always been renowned for rallying around and coming to the aid of fellow members in need; it's a hallmark of the organisation and one of the prime reasons why I'm so proud to be a part of it.

And as the Murphys are in a sad predicament at the moment, I hereby urge readers to do anything they can to help them out.

Four-year-old Johnny Murphy, son of Johnny Jnr. and Sabrina, has never been able to eat or drink naturally and has been earmarked for surgery to have a gastric pacer inserted in his stomach.

After a preliminary operation in Crumlin Children's Hospital, he is set to travel to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London for the procedure which would bring about a dramatic improvement to his quality of life as he would no longer have to be fed through a tube.

Just think about that for a minute, and reflect on the many things a healthy human being takes for granted. Eating and drinking would be high up on anyone's list.

Then try to imagine how unbearably tough it must be for a four-year-old child to be denied that basic function; and yet, he somehow manages to smile his way through it as our coverage of his plight in the news pages has highlighted.

The costs involved in meeting Johnny's medical needs must be astronomical, and this is where you can assist dear reader.

A benefit night to help the family is taking place in Hotel Curracloe this Saturday, January 31. Tickets at just €10 each are available via the Facebook page 'Johnny Murphy Benefit Night' or by calling 087-9041268. Those of you on Twitter may also access information via the 'TeamJohnnyMurph' feed.

Even if it doesn't suit you to attend Saturday, please be as generous as possible. Every extra few cent raised will help young Johnny in his difficult journey, and the account details for anyone who wishes to play a part are: Iban - ie08aibk93331767113043 and bic-aibkie2d.

I think the following comment on the benefit night Facebook page sums it up very simply and very well: 'Help us give Johnny Murphy the gift of being able to eat without getting sick'.

You won't find a more worthy cause to support in my humble opinion, so please play your part.

And young Johnny will remain in our thoughts and prayers as his difficult journey continues.

Wexford People