Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

Joe Kernan: Brolly reserved his greatest display for a friend in real need

Joe Brolly is a past master at raising hackles. Rather than call a spade a spade, he would tend to refer to such an implement in even more colourful terms such is his passion, honesty and candour.

In his role as an RTE pundit, his razor-sharp tongue and acerbic wit have provoked anger, controversy, mirth and astonishment in equal measure.

A key figure in the Derry side that won the All-Ireland title in 1993, he has since morphed into one of the most high-profile figures within the sport and his analytical observations make for compulsive viewing.

But then that’s why he is there in the first place. Would any of us want to listen to someone who was dull, pedantic and cynical? Joe sometimes courts headlines for all the wrong reasons but this week he is in the public eye for what I regard as an act of supreme courage and selflessness.

To donate a kidney to a coaching colleague is to enhance the quality of life itself and in providing Shane Finnegan with this greatest of gifts, Joe has perhaps unwittingly thrust himself onto a special pedestal.

A busy barrister and father of five with a packed diary of GAA engagements, in addition to his role as joint coach of the St Brigid’s Under 10 squad along with Shane, he was better qualified than most to come up with the well-worn excuse: “I’d love to but I don’t have time.”

It has often been said that if you want something done, then ask a busy man. Joe made time for Shane and in doing so convinced us all that where there is a will, there is a way.

Long after the little differences of opinion that tend to highlight post-match assessments are forgotten, Joe’s spirit of generosity will continue to shine like a beacon to light the way ahead for the rest of us.

Joe played many great games for Dungiven, Derry and Ulster but he reserved his greatest performance for Guy’s Hospital in London.

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