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  • Sport

Hennessy's selfless act to have lifelong impact

Wednesday, 12th December, 2018 1:09pm

Story by Shane Brophy
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Hennessy's selfless act to have lifelong impact

Seamus Hennessy collecting his bib number from Richard Donovan for the Antarctic Ice Marathon

Hennessy's selfless act to have lifelong impact

Seamus Hennessy collecting his bib number from Richard Donovan for the Antarctic Ice Marathon

So what will you be doing tomorrow, Thursday?

We all, on a daily basis, give out about how hard we have it and see even the smallest thing as being a challenge.

Well, as far as what Seamus Hennessy will put himself through tomorrow, everything else is in the halfpenny place.

Even before the Kilruane man takes to the start line of the Antarctic Ice Marathon in temperatures of likely minus 20 degrees, he has already succeeded his challenge of raising €200,000 for suicide prevention organisations Pieta House and Tipperary Living Links.

By the time a number of remaining fundraisers are completed in the coming weeks by sports clubs, community groups and the Tipperary senior hurlers on 22nd December, that figure is likely to be closer to a quarter of a million euro.

It costs approximately €1,000 to bring someone through a full suite of treatment sessions with Pieta House so this means another 50 people, on top of the 200 targeted through Seamus' selfless act, will have their lives to live through early intervention.

That’s 250 families, 250 sets of friends, 250 sets of teammates, 250 school pals who will not lose someone dear to them like Seamus, his family and many other Irish families unfortunately have, as Seamus wrote in one of his regular Running for Josie diaries in the lead up to the race.

When Seamus first contacted me in the summer of 2017 telling me about this challenge he was going to undertake to raise funds for Pieta House and Tipperary Living Links, in the memory of his late mother Josie who passed away when he was just eleven, it was one I never doubted he wouldn't see through.

This is a guy that has exuded leadership from an early age. In my early days as a reporter, hearing of this fifteen year old playing senior club hurling (wouldn't be allowed nowadays) for Kilruane MacDonaghs was the first indication that Seamus was something special, on top of playing senior rugby with Cistercian College in Roscrea and was on the radar for the provincial underage teams.

Back to back All Ireland minor medals in 2006 and 2007 were followed by skippering the Tipp under 21 hurlers to Munster glory in 2008 in the cauldron that was Cusack Park in Ennis on that July evening.

While his days in the blue and gold were cut short, he did leave his mark and while many remember his late scoring contribution off the bench in the 2010 All Ireland Senior Hurling final win and the subsequent Under 21 All Ireland win the following weekend, many tend for forget that the latter success would not have happened but for Hennessy standing over a free with the last puck of the game in the Munster semi-final against Cork at Pairc Ui Chaoimh, trailing by three points, needing a goal to force extra time and he stood up to the task and as they say the rest is history.

As well as overcoming adversity off the field, he also had his inter-county hurling career cut short by injury and I have no doubt his leadership qualities were a big loss from the dressing room as a youthful Tipp side failed to build on their 2010 successes prior to 2016.

However, such a debilitating knee injury hasn't stopped Seamus from still lining out for Kilruane MacDonaghs since even though he should probably not be as his knee takes a few days to recover; a modern day Paul McGrath if you will.

Now both knees have come against him in recent weeks as he built up to the Antarctic Ice Marathon, which restricted his training but it's just another challenge that Seamus has to stare down and considering the adversity he has had in his life so far, on and off the sporting field, he is well prepared for it.

Tomorrow is the challenge of a lifetime, taking part in an event on a continent that only few get to experience. It's as extreme as they come but the impact of what Seamus Hennessy has done will be in terms of the lives he will have saved going forward through his fundraising.

If you haven't donated already, you can still support the Running for Josie fund by donating online at: https://www.gofundme.com/runningforjosi

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