Cancer won't beat my pal Liam Hayes


We made mistakes along the way, loads of mistakes if truth be told, and there were fraught moments when we re-mortgaged our own homes in an effort to pay the wages of those we had asked to share the dream with us.

Tensions were high at times -- he once tried to take my mobile phone off me which almost led to a complete breakdown in our relationship -- but we soldiered on, always in the belief that what we were doing would eventually pay off and make sense.

And it did, but not before we’d turned The Title into Ireland on Sunday, the full blown newspaper that is now theIrish Mail on Sunday and not before we had to sell out to Scottish Radio Holdings for the first decent offer that would keep us afloat.

Liam soldiered on with SRH for a couple of years and I left to go back to the sports beat -- I eventually ended up back at the Star -- and our paths have crossed regularly in the years since we both left The Title in other hands.

A serial entrepreneur, Liam launched the Dublin Daily and the Gazette Group, published several books including Brian Cody’s, and generally proved himself as adept as a businessman as he was as a footballer and an award winning journalist.

Along the way he’s married his delightful wife Anne, welcomed four wonderful children into the world and enjoyed his life.

About two months ago we met for a pint in a wonderful little pub on the Strawberry Beds in Dublin, a pub we used to hide in of an afternoon when it all got too much in the publishing world.

Liam was in great spirits. He had left the Gazette Group behind and was about to go full throttle into life as a publisher of Ireland’s best sports books.

Little were we to know, though, as we supped our pints of Heineken that afternoon that a soon to be discovered lump on his neck was cancerous, and a sign of a more ominous threat than he could have imagined when he first discovered it during a routine shave.

I make no apology for telling you that I cried the day he told me his cancer news. My wife’s mother died of the dreadful disease just a few short years ago, and everyone I know seems to have been touched by it in some cruel way.

Thankfully, as Late Late viewers -- you can still see it on the RTE website -- will know, Liam is going to fight this all the way.

His doctors have told him he has at least an 85% chance of survival, and already the chemotherapy and the steroids have stripped him of his hair and left him in need of that Guinness hat.

We’re having lunch on Friday, but only if a necessary check-up ahead of radiotherapy goes to plan and he can take time from his big battle to shoot the breeze with a cantankerous old gobshite like me and accept his new headwear.

I hope he makes it, not just on Friday but in this fight with a disease that puts all our moaning about the economy and deficits and bank loans into perspective.

The only thing I can definitely tell you about Liam Hayes at a time when sport seems irrelevant, is that he will beat cancer or die trying. That’s the way he’s always been.

Good luck pal. We’re here for you.

PS: Liam’s brilliant book "Out of Our Skins" has just been updated and re-published. You can find out more at