Tipperary goalie Evan hails bravery of his eleven year old sister Ellie

Emotional rollercoaster of a day for Clonmel family

Eamon Lacey


Eamon Lacey



An historic triumph for Tipperary senior footballers on Sunday brought tremendous joy to people all over the world.
Nowhere was that sense of euphoria more special on Sunday afternoon than in a hospital ward at Crumlin Children’s Hospital in Dublin.
After undergoing surgery that morning inspirational eleven-year-old Clonmel girl Ellie was overcome with emotion as she witnessed the historic scenes that unfolded in Pairc Uí Chaoimh on television.
Her brother Evan Comerford was one of the heroes of the day as Tipperary captured their first Munster senior title in 85 years on the weekend of the 100th anniversary of Bloody Sunday when Tipperary footballer Michael Hogan was among fourteen people killed by British forces in Croke Park.
Tipperary supporters all over the world marvelled at the bravery shown by Evan Comerford as he marched upfield to take three long range frees in the second half as Cork closed in.
The pressure was enormous for all those crucial kicks but in Evan’s eyes it was nothing compared to the bravery shown by his sister Ellie in her battle against serious illness.
Ellie, an accomplished footballer in her own right who won the Clonmel Town player of the year in 2019, underwent major operations in Ormond Street hospital in London in June and in Crumlin Children’s hospital in November.
“Ellie is the bravest person I know. On Sunday I was privileged to play for Tipperary on such an historic occasion.
“Playing football is something we enjoy, there can be pressure but at the end of the day it is just sport.
“What Ellie has had to endure and go through is real bravery. She is a huge inspiration to me and all my family,” said Evan.
Ellie, a daughter of Jamie and Christine and a sister of Jack, lives in Heywood Heights, Clonmel.
At six-years-old Ellie was diagnosed with progressive scoliosis, curvature of the spine. Shortly after that diagnosis an MRI scan revealed a tumour in her spinal cord.
The discovery of the tumour forced consultants to defer her planned scoliosis surgery to allow for the behaviour of the tumour to be monitored.
That monitoring process took years to take its course until consultants decided to proceed with the operation to remove the tumour this June.
That major operation took place at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London in June when 90% of the tumour was removed.
Ellie had barely time to recover from the trauma of that surgery before she finally faced her scoliosis surgery on November 13 at Crumlin Children’s Hospital.
By that stage the surgery Ellie required for scoliosis was much more complex as the curvature of the spine had become more pronounced, from a 30% degree curvature to a 100% degree curvature, providing Ellie and the consultants charged with her care an even greater hurdle to overcome.
Displaying the same determination to take on any challenge thrown down to her over the last five years Ellie faced this second major operation within the space of a few months with characteristic bravery.
It took place on November 13 and she was due to come home last Saturday and was looking forward to watching the Munster final at home in Clonmel.
However her plans were thrown into disarray as consultants decided more surgery was needed as they were concerned about her neck position.
On the morning of the Munster final Ellie underwent further surgery and had a crown neck brace fitted.
Incredibly Ellie was able to watch the match and cheer on her brother later that day as Evan kept a clean sheet and took on the responsibility of those long range frees .
“It was amazing. The joy on her face was just wonderful to see.
“She was able to cheer on Evan and Tipperary to victory. The emotion of it all was just incredible,” said Ellie’s mother Christine.
Her father, Jamie, said they were all in awe of the bravery shown by Ellie since she was diagnosed with scoliosis five years ago and the manner in which she has faced such enormous challenges since. “Sunday was just an unbelievable day.
“The emotion of it all on the same day was just unreal,” said Jamie.

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