Liam Sheedy says he'd love for his brother Jimmy to have seen him lead Tipperary to All-Ireland Hurling Championship titles in 2010 and 2019. Sheedy's brother passed away aged just 47 in 2005.
"[The Tipperary minors] were playing Wexford in Gortnahoe in a challenge match," the former Tipperary manager explains in his episode of TG4 series Laochra Gael which airs at 9:30pm on March 2nd.
"It was an 11:30 throw-in. Next thing, my phone went off. I'd been in to see Jimmy in hospital the previous day. The Six Nations was on, and I said, 'Now, Jimmy, you don't need to be watching that match. That ticker is only going to be getting excited. Calm down for the day, and relax'. He was due to be let home the following day.
"I got the phone call to say, 'Your brother is in a bit of bother. He's taken a turn'. I just left the pitch. Unfortunately, he didn't make it. That was March 2005.
"That was tough. Jimmy and myself were very close. He was a teacher, and we spent all the summers together. We used to golf together. He was 47, same age as Dad. It was a really big shock to the system, really tough on my mother, really tough on Liz, Deirdre, and Conor, who we're still really close to."
"All the way from Portroe! Our Messiah, our leader, Liam Sheedy!â
Duine de na bainisteoirÃ is fearr riamh, Ã³ Thiobraid Ãrainn, Liam Sheedy.
ð¥ Laochra Gael - Liam Sheedy
ð DÃ©ardaoin / Thursday
ðº ar @TG4TV @PortroeGAACamo @TipperaryGAA #LaochraGael pic.twitter.com/jsX3DeeHpp
â SpÃ³rt TG4 (@SportTG4) February 24, 2023
Sheedy was just two-years-old when his father passed away, leaving his mother Bid to take care of four boys.
"It was really tough on my mum," Sheedy says.
"The three lads at the time - Jimmy, John, and Mike - were a good bit older than me. In one way, I lost one [father figure] and gained three.
"It was a real simple life. There was only mam, and the four of us. Jimmy was the teacher, and the two lads were in trades. I never got the chance to go to college. It was straight in to get employment, and get the few pound. I got a great upbringing, an understanding of the simple life, an understanding that you have to work for everything."
When Tipperary won the 2010 All-Ireland final, stopping Kilkenny's tilt for five consecutive Liam MacCarthy titles, Bid Sheedy - then well into her 80s - was one of the guests of honour at Semple Stadium for the homecoming. She sang 'Happy Are We All Together', just as she did when Portroe won the 2012 North Tipperary final.
"John probably sings it now any time we win a match," says Sheedy.
"He's one that picks up the mantle of having to sing 'Happy Are We All Together'. It's a great tradition that's in our club. It's lovely to have something that will outlive us, and stays alive in the village after her passing. In her 90 years here, she didn't leave much behind - she emptied the tank."
Sheedy adds that though some family members are no longer alive, he still feels a connection with them.
"Is he up there looking down on me? Sometimes you wonder," he says , speaking about his brother Jimmy.
"Do they influence you even more when they're in the sky? That's why sometimes at matches, people see me and I'm [looking up to the sky]. I do have an old word up there every now and again, just to check in. That's how it feels with me, that they're on my shoulder, and they're with me, and I can connect with them, nearly feel them on the day of a match. It nearly puts me at ease.
"That's the amazing thing. It's a massive emotional drain at the time, really difficult to deal with. I don't view them as being gone-gone, I view them as being in a different area, but they're still with me. That's very comforting for me. I'd love him to have seen in person what's gone on in the last few years, no question."