Belfast Telegraph

Declan Bogue: For he’s a Brolly good fellow

That Joe Brolly boy, eh? What about it? A kidney, indeed! As Ben, brother of Dick Clerkin, said on twitter once the news broke, he wouldn't even give him his right Twix.

There will be people writing about this that are much more able to capture the spirit of someone who is willing to donate one of his major organs to a man whom he only recently befriended. I won't go there, but I will tell you a little about the episodes of this most eccentric of men, given that I edited his column for a couple of years in a previous job.

There was the time he woke up in his Belfast home and found a burglar in his bedroom, describing the offender to me as ‘looking around the room, like a golfer searching for his ball in the rough.' He gave chase and leaped the fence of Ormeau Park in only his underpants.

Then, when holidaying in Connemara, he discovered that the only place he could get reception to file his copy was by climbing the tree in the garden and sending it from his phone. In the office, we kept telling him it didn't come through. He climbed it six times before he twigged it was a wind-up!

And when playing a match together for an Ulster select team to mark a pitch opening at Stewartstown Harps, he referred to Henry Downey, sitting nearby in the dressing room, as ‘captain' throughout the entire afternoon, a habit he has kept since Downey led Derry to the All-Ireland in 1993.

When Joe Brolly calls me, a picture of him ‘flipping the bird' appears on my phone. He is also wearing a Louis Walsh mask. Put that mental image in your head for a minute. Weird.

Then, as many are discovering this week, there is the human side too. Having grieved for the life of Brian Óg McKeever, the young Steelstown player who died of Leukaemia in November 2008, he insisted that Gaelic Life should organise a drive towards blood donations. Now, clubs around Ulster regularly stage these kind of events.

In years to come, he will get time to reflect and put everything into context. He might not always be right, and sometimes he is as badly off as he can be on the money, but he has walked the path less trodden and went his own way. How many of us can say the same?

Belfast Telegraph


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