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Brave heroes win Battle of Wonky Knees

by Jimmy Rhatigan

They are kindred spirits; related through the genius they brought to their chosen sports.

Phenomenal soccer talent Paul McGrath is arguably the greatest ever player to wear the Republic of Ireland jersey.

The great irony is that he graced the world soccer stage while nursing two wonky knees which were so fragile that he could not train at times before English top flight clashes.

Carrickshock and Kilkenny hurling hero Richie Power Jnr is our local miracle who battled through years of pain in a wonky left knee to help blast the black and amber to eight senior hurling All-Ireland titles.

Like Paul, a soccer wizard who started his career with League of Ireland Club St Patrick’s Athletic of Inchicore, Dublin the Powerful Richie, a magician with a hurley refused to bow to excruciating torture as he battled through the pain barrier. 

His love of family, the game of hurling, his county and country fuelled his blazing hurling guns.

That his Herculean efforts, inspired by love helped to Power Richie to the pinnacle of a game for which he has insatiable passion, was achieved by a devoted amateur sportsman is an extraordinary achievement at a time when money rules in so many global sports.

Paul McGrath may not be a cousin or indeed related in any way to our undoubted king of skill and courage but the pair just may have been joined at the hip of fearlessness in their pursuit of success.

Paul was prepared to risk his limbs for his beloved Republic of Ireland and for professional soccer giants Manchester United and Aston Villa at different times.

Regardless of the pangs of pain Richie was always ready to take up his bed and walk, as it were, not for his glorification but for neighbours and neighbours’ children in his native Hugginstown, all of whom eat, sleep and drink the game of hurling.

On the pitch both athletes have shown remarkable true grit and courage. Off the pitch their lives were not always a bed of roses either.

Both had their demons. Paul fought with alcohol while Richie was tormented by gambling. 

Both showed remarkable resilience and admirable fighting spirit as they won their respective wars.

Paul now lives happily in Wexford and Richie laps up family love with his nearest and dearest.

Hurling means everything to the extended Power family, his loving mother, brothers and sisters, his partner and perhaps very specially his dad Richie Snr who like his son of the same name wore the Kilkenny and Carrickshock jerseys with sensational pride.

The Richies and fellow aficionados continue to toil with pride at the coalface of Carrickshock GAA, founded in 1928, a monument to love of place, togetherness and pride in the parish.

A book launched in Langton’s, John Street on Wednesday, ‘Power: A Family Memoir’, penned by father and son, the two Richies, supported by journalist Dermot Keyes and published by former Meath Gaelic Football star Liam Hayes is a refreshing insight into a loving Power Clan and all it stands for.

It chronicles the passion of local hurlers, the volunteers from proud local families that keep the hurling show on the road, a Carrickshock GAA Club that encourages camaraderie and community spirit that may forever be at the heart of a hurling stronghold in the bowels of South Kilkenny.

Speakers at the launch included former GAA President, Nickey Brennan and Tom Murphy, chair Carrickshock GAA Club. Liam Hayes was master of ceremonies. The book was launched by former Kilkenny hurling icon, a master of midfield excellence, Frank Cummins.

The book, great value at €20 is on sale in urban and rural shops and in Kilkenny City bookshops.

The Battle of Wounded Knee was a massacre of Larota Indians by US Army Troops in South Dakota in 1890.

In more recent times Richie Power and Paul McGrath won their Battle of Wonky Knees with a mix of bravery and skill that is an example to all young sportsmen and women.

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