Ger Loughnane explains how a misunderstanding led people to believe he was dead

The All-Ireland winning manager spoke to Joe Molloy on Off The Ball

Ger Loughnane after Clare won the 1995 Munster Hurling Final.

©INPHO/Tom Honan

Ger Loughnane had just completed his first period of cancer treatment, when rumours of his death went into circulation.

The two-time All-Ireland winning manager was diagnosed with leukaemia five years ago and was treated in St. James’s hospital in Dublin.

Loughnane initially believed he was suffering from a flu, and was out hunting when he suspected his condition might be more serious.

Speaking to Joe Molloy on Off The Ball, he said:

"I went to a gap to catch two dogs and I found I couldn’t run. I knew then that something was seriously wrong, that this wasn’t just a flu. Between this and that, it took another two months to really diagnose it. But once diagnosed and once I got into the system, it was absolutely fantastic."

Keeping the uncertainties about his health to himself, he went to see his doctor in Limerick where he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia and was instructed to go to St. James’s hospital later that evening.

"Your head is spinning. You've a defensive thing inside you, you're always clinging to the thing 'ah it's something else, he'll give me a bottle or give me tablets going home and I'll be fine.'"

Loughnane decided to 'immerse' himself in the treatment and placed his total trust in the abilities of the medical team tasked with his care. He underwent four separate treatment periods at the hospital, each lasting for over 30 days.

It was after the first stretch of treatment, that rumours of his death went into circulation.

"That was one of the strangest rumours of all time because I had come out of James’s and when you come out the first time, your system is very low. I had got two very bad infections while I was there the first time." 

The news was reported by the Irish Examiner, and even reached his son Conor in Australia, who refused to accept his father was still alive until he spoke to him on the phone.

Loughnane said that the origin of the rumour was down to an incident of miscommunication between a nurse at St. James's and a caller looking to speak to the former Clare manager.

"It was on the Examiner’s website, but I don't actually blame anyone for it. Somebody rang the hospital just to talk to me and the nurse on duty said, 'I'm sorry, but he's gone (home).'

The person calling misunderstood the news to mean that Loughnane had passed away, which ultimately sparked the rumour.

Loughnane went on to recall how someone from his hometown in Feakle told him that the incorrect news cost him two bottles of wine.

"He told me a great story about being in the pub that night and they all had this news that Ger Loughnane was dead. He went home from the pub, his son was in bed and he woke up the son from bed. The two of them drank two bottles of his best wine at three or four o'clock in the morning."

"The next morning he woke up at around 11 o’clock with a desperate headache, and he heard that I was alive and he said, 'well 'F' you Loughnane, you ruined my two best bottles of wine.'"

Listen to the full interview: