Home Sport GAA Family of injured Dublin footballer reaches out to London’s Irish

Family of injured Dublin footballer reaches out to London’s Irish

Family of injured Dublin footballer reaches out to Londons Irish
30 September 2017; Sean Drummond of Cuala during the Dublin County Senior Football Championship Quarter-Final match beween Cuala and St Jude’s at Parnell Park in Dublin. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Family of Dublin GAA footballer, Sean Drummond, who was seriously injured in London reach out to city’s Irish community

By Damian Dolan

The father of a young Dublin Gaelic footballer who suffered a traumatic brain injury in London is appealing to the city’s GAA and Irish community to help the family reach its fundraising target.

Sean Drummond, 24, from Sandycove was involved in a “horrific traffic accident” on 23 March last year, which left him with multiple skull and facial fractures.

He needed life-saving surgery at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel to relieve pressure on his brain, and spent the next four months in a coma.

Sean is currently undergoing rehabilitation at the Royal Hospital for Neurodisability in Putney, and faces a long, and unknown, road to recovery.

“It’s going to be a minimum of two years, but it could take four or he might never get past 80 per cent. It’s a huge unknown,” said Sean’s father, Tommy, told the Irish World.

“It might take him two years to get out of a wheelchair. We just don’t know.”

Family of injured Dublin footballer reaches out to Londons Irish
Sean with his father Tommy

Sean is unable to walk or talk, but has been making hugely significant progress since November.

A GoFundMe page (Support4Drummo) set up and driven by his school friends and Cuala GAA club teammates has already raised a staggering €250,000.

That money will help to cover private rehabilitation classes and to set Sean up for future life.

Tommy is now hoping that Sean’s story will resonate with the Irish community in London, in particular the GAA and its members here, to help the family reach its €400,000 goal.

“He was working hard and enjoying London,” says Tommy.

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“If I was part of that broader community, I would probably say ‘it could have been me’. It could have happened to anyone – on this occasion it just happened to be him.”

Spearheading the fundraising drive is Sean’s school friend and Cuala teammate Conor Mullally, who is on the Dublin senior football panel.

Family of injured Dublin footballer reaches out to Londons Irish
16 December 2018; Conor Mullally of Dublin during the Seán Cox Fundraising match between Meath and Dublin at Páirc Tailteann in Navan, Co Meath. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Conor and Tommy will travel over to London in the next few weeks in the hope of “reaching out” to the Irish in London, graduate networks and the GAA, amongst others.

“There’s a huge Irish community in London so it’s just about reaching out to people who can relate to Sean’s story,” said Conor.

“As great as it is to have raised over €250,000, the next bit is going to be really difficult because we’ve done a lot in Ireland.”

Sean was studying for a Masters in Artificial Intelligence at Imperial College London and was living in Lambeth at the time of the accident.

He had already been offered a job with Amazon and was due to start last September.

Like so many before him, and so many now, London was going to be Sean’s home for the foreseeable future.

Family of injured Dublin footballer reaches out to Londons Irish
Sean, right, with Conor (centre) and fellow Cuala teammate Fergus Spillane

And a week before, Sean was named Cuala senior player of the year for 2018 – no mean feat given it’s the club of Dublin senior footballers Con O’Callaghan, Mark Schutte, Michael Fitzsimons and, of course, Mullally.

A “key milestone” in Sean’s condition came in June.

His friends, who set up a rota and take it in turns to visit Sean in ones and twos, had been sending over recordings and messages to be played to him. They noticed that Sean’s chest would rise and fall during the funny stories.

Although his face didn’t show any emotion, it was as if Sean was laughing.

“We suddenly realised that he could hear, understand and respond. We said ‘he’s all there!’. He remembered his friends and the stories, he just couldn’t express himself,” said Tommy.

Having emerged from his coma in July, Sean was transferred to Putney to begin his rehabilitation.

Initially unable to control any part of his body, Sean was gradually able to progress from being able to move his fingers in August to being able to answer yes-no questions with a thumbs up, or down.

At the end of October, he wrote his first word, ‘Good’, in response to being asked how he felt.


Since November, Sean’s family has seen him continue to make “huge progress”.

He has been using a specially modified exercise bike for legs and hands daily to build up his strength and is now able to use his right hand to sip fluids. At Christmas he was able to write ‘Happy Christmas’.

Tommy anticipates, though, that the family will have to find a new ‘home’ for Sean to continue his progress by the end of March.

The family is already assessing where the next best place for Sean is – within the NHS or a specialist rehabilitation facility. They’re faced with making a decision over the next six weeks.

A six-week private rehabilitation course in the UK costs £30,000, and Tommy anticipates Sean could need five or six such courses over the next three years.

Sean’s story was featured on The Ray D’Arcy Show on RTÉ, with Tommy and Conor both appearing. It helped bring the story into the mainstream.

Family of injured Dublin footballer reaches out to Londons Irish
Conor (right) and friends outside the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability in London

Tommy says the family just had to “switch modes” following Sean’s accident.

“You prioritise; the silly things you spend your time doing that aren’t important, they disappear quickly,” he said.

Sean’s mother, Jenny, moved over to London to be with her son 24/7. It’s enabled her to help Sean with his exercises to “accelerate his recovery”.

Tommy makes it over every second weekend, and the rest of the family every few weeks.

“Jenny’s role is to look after Sean, and my role is to look after everything else. You make the decisions and you just go for it, and you support each other,” said Tommy.

To donate or to find out more go to https://www.gofundme.com/f/support4drummo

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