Author Archives: Robert Cox

About Robert Cox

I'm a sports journalist based in county Meath, Ireland. I have a passion for all sport, the people behind it and the stories they have to tell. You can find me on the sidelines, end terraces or a parade ring near you!

Humans of Kilcock – Hannah Duffy Logan

“Today is world IBD Day (Inflammatory Bowel Disease/Crohns Disease and Ulcerative Colitis) I have been suffering with Crohns Disease since 2011. I’ve had countless blood transfusions, iron infusions and have been getting fed through TPN. It was a very difficult journey. It started with severe stomach pain, before throwing up everything I ate. I had bleeding and was unable to get up out of bed. I lost nearly 6 stone which was over half my body weight.

When I visited my GP he assumed I had a eating disorder, as did many other people that I met. I went to A&E countless times until they finally did a colonoscopy and it was determined it was Crohns Disease. After this I was in hospital for months, getting fed through TPN, on countless medications until they had no choice to remove half my bowel because I wasn’t improving.

I got on great after this, maybe just a few admissiosn until 2019, when my world was turned upside down. It was back with a vengeance. I have now severe complicated Crohns. I have contracted C diff while I was in hospital which was agonizing, I lost a lot of weight again and had to get fed through TPN yet again. I have 2 fistulas which may need surgery and I’m on 3 immunosuppressants, one which includes a chemotherapy drug. For that one I go to hospital for 2 hours every 4 weeks for an infusion.

I’ve had 8 admissions since June 2019 and I am still flaring since then. I really hope they find a cure, this can be devastating on your life. I’ve been out of work since then and I have only recently been able to start going for walks because I lost so much muscle, after been once confined to bed”

Paul Byrne Kilcock Robert Cox Sport

Kilcock Teenager Grateful For Second Chance Following Kidney Transplant

By Robert Cox  | April 30th 2020

“I couldn’t believe when the voice at the other end of the phone told me they had a kidney for me. I went around the house screaming at one in the morning. I was terrified”

These are unprecedented times we live in. We have now spent a number of weeks in lockdown due to the CoronaVirus pandemic that has swept throughout the world.

Many of us are busy making plans for what we will do when things return to some kind of normality, some of us are taking time out to reflect on things in our life to date, while others are keeping busy with activities such as running and gym work; Kilcock teenager Paul Byrne is one such person, except in his case he is doing all of the aforementioned above.

Robert fox sport Paul Byrne Kilcock

However Paul’s case is slightly different from the vast majority of us, lockdown hasn’t brought about that much change in his life, well certainly his life since November 2019, when the former Kilcock Celtic underage goalkeeper underwent a major Kidney Transplant Operation, that has since had him in isolation and lockdown long before it became fashionable!

There is no doubting that any operation can be life changing and in Paul’s case the change has certainly been for the better. Those closest to him will not have been one bit surprised to see Paul back doing what he loves, his gym work, as early as January. And it would have come as no surprise to them either that he now looks to the future with great optimism, even in these difficult times.

Paul (19) from Royal Meadows Kilcock, is the 3rd son of four children, with Danny and Alan ahead of him in terms of age and his younger sister Cara making up the quartet for parents John and Noeleen.

Paul’s earliest memories of his kidney problems came from his regular trips to Temple Street Hospital for check ups after his mam Noeleen found out from the early stages of his life that he would eventually one day require a transplant; “My mam found out when I was quite young that one of my kidneys was in bad state. I was on medication from an early age and I had to attend hospital on numerous occasions as far back as I can remember to check had the Kidney function dropped. Usually every time it did, I would encounter some problems health wise. We were told that if it ever dropped below 20% I would have to begin the process of preparing for a transplant but we didn’t know when that was going to happen.

Robertcoxsport.com Paul Byrne Kilcock

I was in Temple Street up until the age of sixteen before having to move and attend Beaumont Hospital. I have nothing but praise for both hospitals, who treated me very well”

Despite these complications as a youngster, Paul was always very upbeat and never let his condition get in the way of doing what he loved most, playing sport; “In terms of sport, it never affected me. I was always an active kid. I played Hurling and Gaelic Football up until the age of 7 or 8 before I concentrated solely on playing in goals for Kilcock Celtic, where I went on to win plenty of finals and cups before stopping a couple of years ago over fears of getting a bad hit on my kidney. I enjoyed every minute of my journey through sport at underage”

 

After hanging up the goalie gloves, Paul didn’t rest on his laurels and quickly found a new love, joining his local gym in January 2019, to work on his strength and conditioning; “I joined the gym here in Kilcock in January 2019 and took to it like a duck to water. It was the best decision I’ve ever made. I was getting help how to build my muscle mass. After the first few days, I found I was flying at it and was really beginning to see results as the months passed. As well as the physical aspect of the working out, I felt it was having a great impact on me mentally and I was feeling as well as I had in a long time”

However, in June 2019 Paul was put on Dialyisis and so began his journey towards having the transplant; “I was brought in and hooked up to a big machine. It was a one day procedure and I had a little tube inserted into me to allow fluid to be taken out and put in. After this procedure I was upset that I couldn’t go to the gym for a while. I couldn’t do my compound lifts, squats, bench or deadlifts for fear that I would tear the wound open. I always had plasters on to protect the wound so it became a bit of a challenge when wasing for example because I couldn’t get soap or shampoo near the wound, so it was always a long process in getting ready for the shower”

Been unable to do certain lifts wasn’t to deter Paul from continuing his workouts though, so given his determination, he found alternatives; “I found loads of new exercises and began to work on areas like my lower back and glutes and this helped me a good bit. I was at this routine for about three months and then I got a call to say I had been put on the waiting list for my transplant”

At this stage it was late September or early October 19 and as it turned out Paul wouldn’t be on the waiting list for too long; “I think I was only on the waiting list for about four weeks from the time I was told I was on it. Which is amazing, some people can be on it for years. I was thrilled, I couldn’t believe it. I genuinely felt I’d be on the list for years to come. From the moment I went on the waiting list it all became a bit real and it was pretty scary knowing that I could get the call any day but I tried to get on with my life as normal but it was always in the back of my mind”

As it turns out the the former Scoil Dara student didn’t have to wait too long for that call to say that the hospital had found a match; “I went in for my transplant on November 5th 2019 and it was the scariest thing I’ve ever been through. The call literally happened out of nowhere. I couldn’t believe when the voice at the other end of the phone told me they had a kidney for me. I went around the house screaming at one in the morning. I was terrified. We had to kick into gear and rush to the hospital.

When we got to the hospital I had to undergo all blood tests etc and I was once again terrified for my life. I felt all along that I would be ready when the day came but nothing prepares you. The rest of that day is a bit of a blur between one thing or another but I certainly remember waking up from the operation. I was sore everywhere”

Paul spent a week in hospital after the operation and recalls the pain he felt in the first few days; “As I said already, I was sore everywhere. I had a couple of large incisions and I just kept looking at them, I found it hard to move and they hurt when I did. I was feeling a bit sorry for myself but after a few days I just began to feel extremely grateful and to this day I know how lucky I am. I know some people who are still on dialysis after like ten years so for me to get it done so quickly, I will be forever grateful”

Paul Byrne Kilcock Robert Cox Sport

Given that the gym had become such a big part of his life in the year up to the operation, Paul became a bit dispondent when he was told he would have to stay away from the gym for at least three months; “Yeah I was a bit upset alright that I couldn’t go back to the gym for at least three months, which upon reflection is probably a bit silly of me given the scale of the operation but that’s the way I felt at the time.

I have to be honest though, I did make a return to the gym after only a month. In my mind I felt I was fully healed and thank God I never suffered any setbacks. It was mid December when I went back and to be honest it was a nice early Christmas present to myself!

Everything about the gym helped me recovery so quickly. Just been there helped me. I wasn’t doing much but what I was doing was helping me ten fold”

After all he’s been through Paul now feels he has come out the other side with more motivation than he ever had. He knows how lucky he is and is grateful for that. Now when he goes to the gym he has something to push him on even more; “The gym makes me feel so good and when I’m working out I sometimes take a look down at my scars and it pushes me on to work harder. I think back to where I was and how scared I was for my life and as I said already I feel grateful. Obviously it’s early doors and I’m still a bit skinny and I am trying to build myself up some more. But it’s a challenge I relish.

There are some things I still can’t eat like grapefruits but that’s a small price to pay. Outside of the gym, I look at my scars every morning when I get out of bed and it just helps me to say Ohh I can do this or I can do that. I am so grateful.

Paul Byrne kilcock Robert Cox Sport

At the moment obviously all the gyms are closed but I have continued my work outs at home and I am also taking time out to reflect on what has been a whirlwind twelve months or so.

Thankfully I am out the other side of it. And I look to the future with a lot of hope. Going forward I want to put all my experiences in and out of the gym to good use and help other people to achieve their goals. I’ll be ready to get going when this current CoronaVirus pandemic passes.

I am so grateful to the family of the person who sadly lost their life a week before my transplant. I didn’t know the person who donated but I wrote a letter to their family thanking them. I will never forget them”

Summerhill Clubs Help Sona Sasta With Local Hot Lunch Deliveries

Members of Park Celtic Summerhill and Summerhill Gaa have been busy aiding local meals on wheels service Sona Sasta with deliveries during this current Covid19 crisis.

Parkceltic Summerhill fc chairman Barry Heffernan delivering a hot lunch to daily Summerhill Community Centre attendee Paul Howlett.

Summerhill based Sona Sasta provide a vital service to the local community all year round, a service greatly appreciated by all in the area. In the past couple of days the Hot Lunch Service has been extended to seven days a week.

A spokesperson for Sona Sasta spoke of the new extension; “Easter can be a difficult time when you are socially isolated. We are delighted to announce that from today (April 9th) the delivery of the daily hot lunch to our members will be extended to seven days a week.

We welcome and thank members of Summerhill Gaa and Parkceltic Summerhill FC, who will be helping with the hot lunch deliveries.

The volunteers dropping off the lunches will be happy to help our members in other ways, in particular with shopping, medication, fuel and water.

We would also like to wish our members and volunteers cocooning the very best this Easter and thank all the new volunteers who have stepped forward to help the older adults in our community during these trying times.

Keep safe and have a happy Easter”

The hot lunch is delivered daily between 12noon and 1pm and with the two clubs coming onboard to help with deliveries, everything has been running bang on time.

Life In Lockdown With Grace Clifford

By Robert Cox April 2nd 2020


It’s March 8th and on a wet and windy afternoon in Dr. Hyde Park, the Kildare Ladies Footballers have just eeked out a hard fought win (0-13 to 0-08) over their hosts Roscommon in Division 3 of the league.

The win sees Kildare qualify for the final and extends their 100% record in 2020, with five wins from five under their belt. Things are really beginning to take off for this team, following some barren years since the county won the 2016 All-Ireland Intermediate Championship.

The last thing they need is an obstacle outside of their control been thrown into the mix. The team’s recent run of good form is the culmination of two years hard work under the guidance of Galway man Daniel Moynihan and his management team.

Now in his 3rd year at the helm, Moynihan and his team have unearthed some new talent, who have all added greatly to his panel and played their part alongside experienced campaigners in the shape of Siobhán O’Sullivan, Erica Burke, Róisín Byrne and Mary Hulgraine. To Moynihan’s delight the last three are back in the fold having missed the last few seasons for various reasons. And remember the trio also have All-Ireland medals safely tucked away in their back pockets, this are no ordinary threesome.

Back in Roscommon, the team congratulate each other on their most recent success, high fives all round, (little did they know that in a few weeks they wouldn’t even be able to meet never mind high fives) they know they’ve been in a battle and at the back of their minds they also know this result is a break through. This was game they would have thrown away in previous seasons. But this side have an added steel about them, with leaders around the field, none more so than team Captain Grace Clifford.

Clifford has just put in another monumental performance, driving her team on from midfield, an inspiration to some of the newcomers and a leader to all, just has she has been throughout her Lilywhite career, especially since been named Captain in 2018.

The Eadestown player was also part of that successful All-Ireland winning side of 2016 and now in 2020 she is determined more than ever to get this current side moving in the right direction. She more than anyone will be thrilled at qualifying for the league final and will be already planning for their most likely finalist opponents Down in a few weeks time.

With only the winners gaining promotion to Division 2, Clifford knows it’s time to park the Roscommon success and is already looking forward to putting in a few hard weeks training back at Hawkfield.

They still have two league fixtures to fulfill and given her winning mentality, she will want to win them too and make it a perfect seven from seven. Nothing is going to stop her and her team mates in their quest for glory she thinks as she boards the bus from Roscommon back to Kildare. Their time is now.

Fast forward a few weeks and with the country since in lockdown due to the CoronaVirus, we caught up with Clifford (over the phone of course!) for a chat to see how she was coping with isolation and restriction from seeing her team mates, extended family, friends and to see how she found working and training at home alone.

What was life like for an Inter County Captain during Cov19. Thankfully for the Recruitment Consultant, who resides in Eadestown, her job means she can work from home and as we called it came as no surprise that on her break she was out for some fresh air and exercise, determined to keep up her level of fitness ahead of any possible return to Gaa action in the coming months.

Clifford is not one to rest on her laurels. A lot had happened since that afternoon in Roscommon, with the joy of reaching the league final, turning to disappointment a week later when the powers that be in the LGFA pulled the plug on the remainder of the National League for 2020 (it won’t be finished at any stage) due to the current CoronaVirus pandemic sweeping across the country.

One feels maybe they made the decision rather hastily and could have looked at potentially finishing it in the autumn. All training had been cancelled and as mentioned above the country had more or less gone into full lockdown, with people asked to stay within a 2km radius of their home.

Clifford for one had to adapt in more than one area of her everyday life, but as usual she was upbeat and positive about the challenge ahead. “Yeah look it’s a crazy time for everyone, Covid19 was something that none of us were prepared for. It’s something that hasn’t happened in our lifetime and please God it will never happen again.

I think what it has shown us is that your health is your wealth. Regardless of our status in life, you are not immune to something like this”

Clifford, who won a Kildare SFC with her local Club Eadestown in 2018, counts herself lucky that she resides in the area, out in the countryside, where she can get out and about without worrying too much about bumping into people;

“I suppose for me I am lucky I live in the countryside in Eadestown so I am able to get out for a good run and walk and thankfully I haven’t really had to go into the towns too much in the last couple of weeks, aside from maybe going to the shops for my mam, so I have found the social distancing part easy enough to adapt too”

As usual Clifford is finding the positives from a bad situation and sees this as a time for people to regroup and take stock of their lives, something she certainly intends to do.;

“I’m a very positive person and am trying to find the positives out of the current situation. Personally for me the last number of years have been go, go, go what with college, training, work, all these things. And like so many I’ve never really had the opportunity to sit back and appreciate the simple things in life. So it’s from that maybe all of us could try and take the positives. To maybe take a step from our busy lives and take stock.

I’ve found that from been at home and been around the family all the time has been nice, though maybe if you ask me that again in a few weeks I could have a different answer!!!

Working from home

Having attended Carlow IT, Clifford now works as a recruitment consultant, where thankfully she can continue her work from home.

“I work as a recruitment consultant so as you can imagine job interviews are probably the last thing that people are thinking of or worrying about at the moment but to be honest we have been pretty lucky and have been relatively busy over the past couple of weeks.

I’m going into week three now working from home and despite initially been unsure how I’d get on with things, I’m actually enjoying it so far. Obviously I miss the company of my work colleagues in the office but I’m content with the change for now.

I’ve actually had a lot of job interviews happening and companies still working, looking to move on ahead. These are companies that are maybe been prepared since the last recession. I think people are utilising the technology we have now days, with the likes of Skype and Zoom to hold interviews, whislt also respecting the governments restrictions.

Overall working from home has been different but it’s nice to have a change every now and then. I’m grateful that I could continue in my role from home as I know so many people have been temporarily laid off. I’m also grateful to my company for doing their bit and for providing that option for me”

Daily Routine

To make it and maintain a career both on and off the field you have to have a good worth ethic, discipline and routine and though we know from the outside looking in that the County Captain possesses all these traits in abundance, she explains to us the importance of sticking to her routine during this difficult time;

“I’m a real stickler for routine. For me I’ve been doing my work and then lunchtime is when I do my workout, so I either do my run or my home gym. That’s really been unbelievable, I find that brilliant.

Then in the evenings after work I always make sure to get out for a good walk as well, while also getting out to the gable end of the house with a football and work on some skills to keep the eye in.

Again keeping this routine has helped me to stay positive and then maybe at the end of the day I would pop into the team’s group chat and send pictures of what work I had done that day. Then seeing what the others girls post too, it helps keep that communication going.

I’m obviously keeping to a very similar routine to my eating habits too, which can be a bit of a challenge at times when you are at home all day”

Keeping in contact, training in groups at a distance and management with Kildare

Going from spending so much time together and working towards a common goal since last November of winning the league has been pulled right from under the noses of Clifford and her Kildare team mates but as she she says they are in plenty of contact, working hard separately and now very much looking forward to Championship when football returns;

“We’ve a really good squad there with Kildare this year, doubled up with a great management and S&C coach, who we’ve been working with in our groups over the last few weeks, putting in amazing work, trying to stay relatively fit. We’ve been given different challenges, runs and home workouts to do.

Everything has been put in place to adapt and respect the guidelines by the HSE and the Government, while still getting out and for our physical fitness. But maybe more importantly, as our management have stressed, to get out for the goodness of our mental health also. In fairness all the girls have been great at keeping spirits up.

Again we were disappointed that the league was cancelled but at the end of the day some things are bigger than football so we’ve taken it on the chin and are looking to moving forward together as a group. As a group we are now looking forward to having a good crack at the championship when football finally does return.

Everyone is linking in and been there for one another. Personally the girls have helped me stay motivated and as a group we are taking one day at a time, knowing every day is one day closer to returning. I think at this stage all the girls will even be relishing to returning to do some pre season runs”

League Cancellation

As supporters of the LGFA, we were obviously disappointed with the cancellation of the league for 2020, especially for teams like Meath and Kildare, who were in excellent positions in their respective divisions but as Clifford explains (despite her own disappointment) that sometimes football has to take a back seat in the greater scheme of things; ”

The news of the league’s cancellation was obviously devestating for us at Kildare. From a footballing perspective we’ve been building towards this with Daniel and his team for a couple of years now and not only since last November. It’s been a work in progress that was beginning to bear fruit.

Our goal was promotion and everything had been going so well. Who would have thought that something like this would be the reason we wouldn’t be getting to play. 2020 has been a bit crazy, first all the storms and now this.

People might say that it’s very trivial to be worrying about sport at a time like this and I agree 100% but this is such a big part of our lives. It was a bit dis heartening to see that the league had been cancelled so quickly, particularly as the Gaa and Camogie Associations came out and said they would reassess the situation in April, when we all might have more of an idea where we are at with this.

But I guess more importantly we are respecting the guidelines and pulling together as a country to try and flatten the curve and that’s the main aim right now.

Again in the grand scheme of things football isn’t that important but naturally enough when you are training together for so long and it is such a big part of your life, you just want to be successful.

The fact that we now know that the league won’t go ahead, any glimmer of hope or motivation for that success is gone given the finality of the decision, though some people may disagree and argue that you are better off knowing your faith from the outset.

As I said above, we are a positive group and we have already turned our attentions to the championship, whenever that may be”

Post Covid19

Been a Manchester United, Clifford is ever the optimist and knows that the LGFA championship will go ahead in 2020, without knowing what structure it will undertake yet. You can be guaranteed she will with have both herself and her team well prepared;

“I’m been sure that there will be some sort of championship that will go ahead and we’ll continue to train for that in a positive way. We are all doing our bit for our communities and we all want to get back to normality as soon as possible.

Obviously our main focus as a group was promotion in the league, we weren’t even thinking about championship but that has changed now and all focus is on the championship to pick up where we left off and continue that winning streak right throughout the year and see where it takes us.

We’ve a really good group there and I feel we deserve to win some silverware after the work we put in.

On the club front with Eadestown, look it’s always competitive winning at any grade in Kildare, especially at Senior, any side can do well on any given year. I’d be hopeful that we’ll have a successful year. The girls are working extremely hard under new management and like everyone the girls just want to play football.

Honestly I just cannot wait to get back on the field and training with everyone, it’s the commerardery and banter that you miss most. When we return we will all definitely appreciate it more”

One thing is for sure if anyone can help this Kildare side through these difficult few months and help them repeat days like that afternoon in Roscommon at the start of March, then their inspirational Captain Grace Clifford can.

She’s proven that it be at home or at Hawkfield, behind the phone or in the centre of the huddle, things stay the same. Routine, hard work, leadership and most of all positivity makes her the leader she is. And Kidlare is all the better for her.

Photos with thanks to Karl Gormley

Irish Wonderkid Moloney Is United Hero In Champions League Final

The day I played for Manchester United. By Darragh Moloney, aged 7

Darragh Moloney in the black United away Jersey, with his brother at the Champions League home coming celebrations at Old Trafford.

It was a Saturday night at the Olympic Stadium in London and 80,000 fans were watching me. I was so excited to be playing in the Champions League Final. It was going to be a tough match.

It was Manchester United v Barcelona. I was a forward for Manchester United playing with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial. The referee blew his whistle. I was the Captain so I took the kick off.

It was an intense match. Bruno Fernandes got the ball in the middle. He passed a great ball to me. I shot the ball and it was a great shot but Ter Stegen, the Barcelona keeper, made a brilliant save. It was a corner. The ball flew in like a rocket but one of the Barcelona defenders headed the ball away. Barcelona’a star player Messi was on the break. He was sprinting up the field. He shot and sadly he scored. Barcelona scored again and again. It was half time and we were down by three goals.

We had our team talk.

The match started and Barcelona took the kick off. One of the Barcelona defenders got the ball but I tackled him and scored. And then I scored again five minutes later and again one minute after that. It was one of the best comebacks I ever saw. The referee blew his whistle as it was now full time. But the match was not over yet, it was extra time.

Barcelona took an early lead but I was not giving up. Marcus Rashford scored for Manchester United and it was now 4-4. Messi then scored to bring it to 5- for Barcelona. In the last minute of extra time I was sprinting up to the Barcelona goal. The fans jumped out of their seats. I took a shot and it was a great goal. The referee blew his whistle and it went to penalties.

Barcelona took the first penalty and they scored. Bruno Fernandes took the next penalty for Manchester United and he also scored. Barcelona took the next penalty and they scored. Now it was my turn, I stepped up to the penalty spot and I shot the ball into the top corner of the net. Barcelona scored their next three penalties but so did Manchester United. It was sudden death….

Messi was up first for Barcelona. He struck the ball it it hit the post. Now it was my turn again. If I scored this I would win the match for my team and get to lift the cup. There was silence in the stadium and my heart was beating really fast but I knew that I could score. I stepped up to the ball and I sent the keeper the wrong way and the ball went into the bottom corner of the net.

We had won the Champions League Final.

Just when I was about to lift the cup I felt something on my shoulder and it was shaking me. It was My DAD!!!! He was telling me to get up and get dressed for school.

When I went to school I told all of my friends about my adventures playing for Manchester United.

The End.