ROY Keane returned home last night to lend his support to a teenager from his own Mayfield community who suffered life-changing injuries during a freak accident earlier this year.
Keano was the toast of Mayfield again as he joined other high-profile sports stars at a sell-out fundraiser for 19-year-old Jack O’Driscoll, who suffered devastating spine injuries in a fall during snow storms last March.
The event, chaired by RTÉ’s Ger Canning, was also attended by Olympian Rob Heffernan, Cork footballer Valerie Mulcahy, Cork hurler Donal Og Cusack, Irish hockey player Yvonne O’Byrne, Kerry footballer Tomas Ó Sé and Jamie Wall, an inspirational former GAA player who lost movement in his legs after he got a rare infection in his spine.
Organiser Pat Peate said it couldn’t have gone better.
“It went really well, 350 people turned up. It was a sell-out, we actually ran out of space.
“All the guests fully engaged. There were some great stories told, great scenarios discussed, great questions asked and answers given. It was absolutely super stuff now, it really was great.”
Pat said Roy has a great sense of a “local boy who comes home”, saying he was happy to help out "one of his own".
The panel discussion was open, frank and honest and gave a great insight into GAA, hurling, football, soccer and hockey, world-class athletes in terms of Roy Keane, Rob Heffernan and the mix of local and international went down really well.
“Everybody was raving about it,” Pat said.
“As they were leaving everyone was saying what a fantastic night it was, just super.”
After the talk, Roy Keane, Rob Heffernan and the other sports stars all posed for photographs, signed autographs and chatted with the guests which added to the night’s excitement.
There was a mix of funny and serious stories told as well as advice on fitness regimes and being prepared and dedicated to sport.
During the night, Keane was also recognised for his part in securing a €100,000 donation from the €1.5m raised during the Liam Miller match held at Pairc Ui Chaoimh on Tuesday 25 September.
Pat said Roy has a great sense of a “local boy who comes home” as much as he can and hasn’t forgotten his roots.
Speaking about Jack and his plans to come home to Cork, Pat said he was still in the National Rehabilitation Centre in Dun Laoghaire, but he was mad keen to get home and it was a good sign that they are keeping him there.
“He was initially meant to be home in the middle of August, then October and then September and now its November.
“He wants to get home, but they are not happy to let him go because he is responding so well and there is more for him to achieve.
“He was disappointed not to make it, but his family were there, his father Paul, aunts and uncles and cousins and they were delighted with how the night went.
Finally, Pat thanked the public for once again supporting Jack’s great cause. “ The outpouring of the support from the whole county was great, people came from the west and east of Cork as well as the city to attend the event. We are very grateful and thankful.”