This weekend marks the fourth anniversary of the death of Niall Donohue. The former Galway hurler tragically took his own life in 2013. To mark the date, the Irish Times' Malachy Clerkin has a lengthy and brilliant piece in today's paper, in which he speaks to Niall's father Francie and brother Shane along with Conor Whelan, Kilbeacanty chairman Justin Fahy, and Galway captain David Burke.
We recommend you read the piece in full, it's in today's paper and also available on the website.
Burke remembered Donohue in his speech from the Hogan Stand in September, creating history by talking about depression and mental health with Liam McCarthy in hand, praising the work of The Charity Chariot and Pieta House. Burke has stressed the importance of communication behind the scenes, too, and explains to Clerkin how he has adapted his role as Galway captain to create a more open environment among teammates in which players can feel more comfortable communicating their problems.
I definitely wanted to look at this thing of WhatsApp groups and, you know, are we just communicating for the sake of it? This year, definitely the older lads in the team were sitting down with lads and just talking to them.
No matter what it was about – work, home, family, anything. Just talking to them about something. Doesn’t have to be about a match.
They might be feeling down about their form, whatever. Because that’s the biggest thing for a GAA player – if they’re not performing well, they’ll eat themselves. So it was just for the older lads to have a chat, whether it was eating dinner after training or even just in the shower.
That’s the sort of thing that has been developing now but looking back now it would eat you that we didn’t do it before.
Burke has proved himself to be among the most admirable Irish sportspeople in 2017.
It is a truly terrific piece, and it's well worth finding the time to read in full.