‘When Mam and Dad died, we could never get them back. But sport is only sport’

GALWAY CAMOGIE LEGEND Thérèse Maher speaks candidly about the loss of her parents in her upcoming episode of Laochra Gael.

The GAA series, which is in its 19th season on TG4, has featured some fascinating stories in recent weeks with Kevin Cassidy and Ryan O’Dwyer both proving to be hits with viewers.

2013 All-Ireland winner Thérèse Maher is the subject of this week’s episode, and fans are in for another excellent instalment of the series.

Maher talks about her happy upbringing as one of 11 children, as well as her long wait for a senior All-Ireland title with Galway. She had to endure five decider defeats before finally lifting the O’Duffy Cup.

She also opens up about the death of her mother in 2008 and the passing of her father a few years later.

“My mother got sick when I was in college in 2003 and she got five good years, and it came back in July [2008] and rapidly progressed then. She’d only come home from hospital the day before the All-Ireland.

“I remember she had her maroon tracksuit on at home in the kitchen the morning before I left, and my brother Vinny stayed at home from Dublin that day to sit with her. But she didn’t have a particularly good day.”

Galway lost that final to Cork, and Maher had hoped that a victory might lift her mother’s spirits.

“It wasn’t to be,” says Maher.

“I remember speaking to her afterwards and she was like, ‘Thérèse, don’t be upsetting yourself. It’s not your fault.’ It was always her way to put you at ease.

“When I came home on the Monday, she’d actually gone back into hospital. My mother passed away in October. She had such life and love to give, she really didn’t want to die.

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“All the firsts after that were tough; Christmas was very hard. I wanted the day to go as fast as it could.

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“I couldn’t wait for January and February to come back because sport gave me an outlet, it gave me something to channel that anger that I was feeling because she was just at a time where we were all grown up, we were able to give something back to her. 

“She was only 64 when she passed away. Camogie gave me a focus, it gave me something to get me out of the house.”

Maher goes on to talk about the death of her father who been living with Parkinson’s disease before his passing.

In 2010, she announced her engagement to her husband David and was hoping that her father would be able to walk her down the aisle.

“On the morning of the wedding, my father unfortunately wasn’t able to go,” she recalls. “I know he was disappointed for me, and I suppose every girl envisages her father walking her down the aisle but it would have been unfair for me to ask him to do it.

“But we’d a lovely morning, I’d got him the suit anyway so we got him dressed up. We took some photos and he told me I looked beautiful which is what every daughter wants to hear on their wedding day.

“I came back from the honeymoon in late January and he passed away on 21 February. At the end of anyone’s days, all anyone has left is their memories and I’ll be forever grateful to have those photos with him and that he was alive on my wedding day, even though he wasn’t there.”

Thérèse Maher’s Laochra Gael will be shown on TG4 this Thursday at 9.30pm.

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