Life and Times

Just wanting to follow up my video on Tuesday with a written piece on the fallout from a suicide attempt. I have spoken with family and friends about my attempts to end my life. As I said in the video I know now that had I gone through with the plan to end my life, it would have done more harm than the supposed good I felt my death would have brought to family and friends.

Looking back as I write these words, I can see how hurtful it is and I am only writing of the situation almost 10 years later to try and again show in written form that things can look awful in the dark moments but they will get better I promise…

I speak from real experience and just hope that by again shining a light on these issues it will help one person see that life is worth fighting for. I know too that in those dark moments you truly feel that life and your family and friends lives will be better without you in it but again trust me having spoken to a few people concerning my own situation, I know that my death would have only opened another can of worms.

I am still here even though on several occasions I felt not good enough to even breathe the same air as family and friends. But that is what happens when you go to the depths of despair. I with the help of a number of counsellors have found the worth in living over the past 10 years. Not that trouble won’t resurface but I now feel strong enough that I have the coping skills and mental fortitude to get past any future setbacks that may happen.

I also know, there are people who probably look and me and think what has he really got to be worried about, he is single and has no family of his own to worry about but as has been shown we need to try and look after all, the person who is out going is much at risk as the quiet soul who rarely opens his or her mouth.

I have quietly tried to highlight these things by using my own personal experience as the guide and by writing a large number of pieces over the past while. I realise that many won’t know where to turn in the hope to find the help they may need.

The help is there 24/7 and thankfully we have seen things change in regards to certain supports for mental health. Yes it is far from perfect but it is turning and with the advocacy of the likes of Neil Breslin ( Bressie) things will change it might take a few years but nothing changes overnight even with the best of intentions and will of many people.

I just hope that by using my own story people will take note and sit up and ask the question, are you doing ok ? It doesn’t cost the earth but if we see someone we think might need a listening ear, just go with your gut and ask !!

My door is open to anyone that may need a listening ear, I of course still have my own problems but such is life. I now have the kettle and about 10,000 teabags to get through so if you need a chat I am willing to listen.

I have my own support network that has been cultivated over the past 7 years in particular and I know I can reach out to them and they will come back to me when they can. I probably seem like a cold fish and It may seem like that I can’t empathise but appearances can be deceiving.

I have grown far more aware of my own mental wellbeing and the feelings of others now on occasion in recent times I may have said the wrong thing but I now see I got things wrong on occasion.

I just hope that this honest and open take will show people that when you take the brave step to open up that it will be worth it. I promise If I can do it then others will gain the courage to open up to family, friends…

FAI – Stick or Twist

It is time for the FAI to make up their minds, will they stick with Stephen Kenny although the smart money does suggest that tonight’s game against New Zealand will bring the curtain down on the Stephen Kenny era.

It has been an extremely disappointing campaign that has put the Republic under severe pressure and with season ticket renewals ongoing it will be interesting to see will people put the money into securing the tickets for 2024 that will of course only see competitive action return in September of 2024 when the nations league starts after next season’s European Championships.

That will be a tough sell but like always the diehards will dip into the pocket and its then down to those on the fence about a ticket that they will need to convince, the “casual fan”. The tenure under Stephen Kenny has seen a new generation of players come through backboned by the under 21 side Kenny coached before being handed the big job.

Josh Cullen, Jason Molumby, Dara O Shea are three players that have been brought into the side with men like Will Smallbone and Adam Idah and latterly Evan Ferguson whose presence seems to instilled a small amount of belief in this group. Ferguson has been bang in form when playing for Brighton in the Premier League under Roberto De Zerbi.

Tonight is a final chance for fans to see James Mc Clean in a green shirt one last time as will win his 103rd and final cap after a debut in March 2013. He has scored a few important goals in that period namely against Wales in Cardiff. He also covered a few positions in his 10 year international career like winger, wing back and full back.

The FAI will need to go away and take their time in selecting the next manager to take the Republic forward in 2024 if it isn’t to be Stephen Kenny… A more important fixture this evening could well be the Under 21 European qualifier in Turners Cross down in Cork. It sees Jim Crawford’s team play Italy looking to redress the balance after Norway last week.

It will provide people will the chance to see the next group of talented youngsters looking to firstly create history and qualify for a major tournament at Under 21 level for the first time and then in the future kick on the represent the senior side.

The FAI Cup final between St Pats and Bohs saw a few of those Under 21s play for either side so you got a chance to see these talented lads. The league of Ireland will provide the players with meaningful game time into the future. Yes it has been the poor relation for many years. A pain that the FAI never quite knew how to set up to keep all sides happy !!

That talk will need to be parked until another time but this evening it’s a chance for two sides to start the healing process, the 21s will need to be on point to gain victory in Cork and likewise on Lansdowne Road the senior side will need to try and gain a small morale boost before this current international window slams shut.

Who you ask will the FAI look to steer the ship if Stephen Kenny’s tenure is ended after tonight’s game. Men like Lee Carsley current England under 21 boss but crucially an ex Ireland international will he look upon this as a project he would like to take on or will it be someone like Gus Poyet who only early last month was questioned would he be interested if the chance presented itself to coach this Ireland side. He did not dismiss the possibility. It will take time and patience to see who the FAI will get in to take the top job. No matter who does get the vote of confidence it will be a tough gig no matter the new person’s CV…

A word for Stephen Kenny if tonight is the be his swansong, he took on the top job with a certain style of play in mind and stuck by those principles which some may see as a step forward but more may say he wasn’t for turning and during his time in charge it was proven when they came unstuck against opposition they should have beaten and then against the likes of France or Holland when caution mixed with some of the new ball playing style may have been warranted.

He stuck rigidly to the way he knows best and that is possession based football which worked while in charge of Bohs, Dundalk in the LOI and then in Scotland with a few teams. Tonight in Dublin 4, it might just be goodbye to Mr Kenny but his work in bringing a number of new players through can’t be forgotten and may benefit the next manager to take on the Republic Of Ireland gig….

No is a tough word to hear

The word “no” is so tough to hear, after a job interview, trying to get into a sports team or just in general terms. I have to say when I have used this particular word in relation to doing certain things to do with family, special occasions or times of the year. The tactic of chipping away has been used to get agreement to do something.

No more will that particular thing work, I have grown that back bone I spoke about a few months ago. It has been so beneficial when it comes to saying “no” when asked to get involved. I suppose I mostly likely over use it but once you learn to use it you get quite good at it !!

I just wanted to write about this because when I say “no” now I mean it and I don’t want people trying to chip away and finally gaining agreement by badgering. I have found myself with that confidence that I feigned many times and for that I am most grateful.

I can be stubborn that will of course come as a shock to many (yeah right) but I feel that when you say no beyond a certain point in life it should suffice and you should not have to have as I call it chapter and verse ready for people.

Of course hearing the word “no” in other ways can be heart breaking if it’s to do with a medical issue that can’t be treated or that job interview you practiced for weeks…

When we as a family heard that no more could be done for Mam back in 2016, it’s in those moments that the word “no” can be so cruel. But Mam did her bit because she was an organ donor so even though we heard the word “no” in another moment we saw her perform an incredibly selfless act. One I don’t often talk of but it is one that should probably be spoken of more….

The reason I bring this up is, those that need organ donation hear the word “no” many times but they never give up hope that someday there dream will come through. I can report that those people who 7 years ago received Mother’s organs are doing well as of a few weeks ago.

I have been told no myself on a few occasions but it never worried me even if my face suggested different. Being told “no” can be character building but it may also break those who don’t take rejection well…

My parents were told I may never walk, talk or go to a mainstream school another version of that word “no” but that has been proven incorrect due to diligence of many people and as I head for 34, they still can’t find the mute button, I have a feeling I didn’t get fitted with one when they were handing them out (apologises folks) …

So for all the times you may be told “no” in life just dust it off and reset the clock and go again because many people may not have the chance to….

Munster – High Gear Time

The 23/24 season is 5 rounds old this weekend and will see Munster face The Stormers in Limerick 6 months after beating them in the URC Final in Cape Town. It will be a chance for Joseph Dweba to come face to face yet again with the boys he wanted to in his own words “F*** up” in last season’s final and I am sure he will get a special welcome on the pitch and in the stands also. They have long memories in the stands as well as on the pitch Joseph !!

Back to the game, Munster have two wins, a draw and a loss so far this year. Looking to Saturday, it’s a chance to circle the wagons and focus the mind going into the next block of games that includes a trip to Dublin as well as a return to Europe in December.

 Munster know the standards haven’t hit the heights they did at the end of last season. It’s time for Munster to kick into a high gear from this weekend onward as the games will start to get bigger as the weeks go by.

John Dobson won’t need to motivate his side and for that matter Graham Rowntree won’t need to use the stick much in meetings to fire his charges up. The return of the internationals is well timed.

Unfortunately RG Snyman won’t be available for an extended period and his engine room colleague Jean Kleyn will come back into the reckoning if not this week, he should be knocking around to be involved against Leinster. We have seen a few guys grab the chance to be in the Munster second row with Edwin Edogbo and Thomas Ahern starting a number of games together, an eye to the future maybe !! Munster also have Fineen Wycherley and Cian Hurley will be back around the new year.

For the talk of the exits of maybe the two SA World Cup winners as the end of the year it is good to see Munster pushing the younger crew forward to start the big games as well as the odd game. Of course this is only speculation at the moment but decision time for new contracts is not too far away either.

Only time will tell will Munster manage to keep one of the two WC winners or will the IRFU say to Munster to let both go in favour of the young talent coming through. The hope among supporters will be to keep one as I feel they won’t hold onto both the end of the current campaign.

As for the back three spots which is quite light at the moment, Liam Coombes was injured in AIL action with Garryowen and that coupled with the retirement of Keith Earls and more recently Andrew Conway leave Munster with space in the back three area.

Opportunity knocks of course for those who will come in, Sean O Brien has seen game time on the left wing with Calvin Nash in the 14 shirt. Simon Zebo will also come back into contention over the next few weeks and that will help relieve the pressure at the minute….     

We have yet to see Munster take flight in attack and let’s hope they have ironed out the issues at both line out and scrum time. For Munster to really kick on both areas need to be sharper.

No better time than a home fixture against the Stormers before the run of games that will see a return to Europe…..

Andrew Conway

It defiantly hits home the nature of certain sports seeing Andrew Conway having to call time on his career due to a persistent knee injury. He got back a month ago to play with Munster one final time in the win over the Sharks in Thomond Park.

Last week, another top notch operator had to admit defeat in his quest to get back to full fitness. Andrew Conway played his rugby with Blackrock College, Leinster and Munster in the pro game playing with Leinster 42 times and then moving to Munster in summer 2013 and going on to play in red 150 times and scoring 50 tries . He turned out for Ireland 30 times and scored 15 tries, a serious strike rate for club and country.

The try that will most likely stand out for most will be the effort against Toulon in 2018 in the Champions Cup quarter final when in the final 5 minutes when Munster were 5 points down and he collected a Francois Trinh Duc clearance on the touch line and cut in to race clear and score a try that will be long remembered by all in Thomond that afternoon.

He as I say had a terrific strike rate, 50 tries in 150 for Munster, 16 in 42 for Leinster and 15 in 30 caps for Ireland. He was an extremely cleaver rugby player who was well able to tackle as well as ind a gap when his team needed it.

Adept in the full back roll as well as playing on either wing, his durability and experience will be sorely missed by all who played alongside him. It is getting tough to write these pieces as I am in and around the same age and older than some of these guys, Johnny Holland had to do something similar in 2016, Felix Jones, CJ Stander.

Felix Jones has gone on to have great success as a coach with Munster were he cut his teeth as a coach and most recently with South Africa where he has just won his second World Cup winners medal. He will now take a place in the England coaching team alongside Steve Borthwick.

Back to Andrew Conway, it will be interesting to see what he may do next in his life, I am sure he will take a break before making his next move. Will he go into coaching or will he be more than happy to make a clean break away from rugby…

Whatever may be in the pipeline for Andrew, I’d like to wish him well and thank him for the last number of years in red… I for one won’t forget your try vs Toulon…

Cerebral Palsy- My Journey

After being at “Bressie” last week the live version of his podcast. I have been thinking about my own journey. I have had cerebral palsy all my life which affects my left side and causes me the stumble from time to time.

I was set thinking by with Niall Breslin said and to that end I want to tell people about the journey as I only really mention it in passing and even people who know me well still tell me they didn’t know I have it and to them it’s a shock when I tell them or when they see the leg brace I wear, it’s not a fashion accessory by Gucci or Fred Perry let me tell you !! You won’t see them at Paris fashion week.

I wear a leg brace daily and that is the strange shape you may see through my jeans or tracksuit bottoms, I have set you thinking now haven’t I !! I think about all the moments I felt like wanting to cut my leg off and get a new one but you can’t do that in real life and particularly as an adult.

But this is the way I am made and I can’t do anything drastic only live with the situation and make the best of it. I have always said I felt like I never fitted in but into my mid-thirties I can now say I am happy and content with where I am.

The big battles have been had in my own head over the years and the little voice in the back of my mind has finally been silenced and I am most grateful for that because earlier this year I didn’t think I would see my way to Christmas 2023.

How time changes when an opportunity presents itself and as I head toward 2024 I can see a future, the very future that on many occasions I felt I didn’t deserve or want but looking back now I know I am strong enough to face future problems and see a way around them rather than falling down a rabbit hole.

My body is beginning to show me that age is finally kicking in and heavy lifting is starting to show me that I am beginning the journey over the hill. I will find a way around of course but it does say to me it might be time to find something that won’t kill me physically.

I do compensate on my right side to try and take the pressure off my left side. I walk with a slight limp, saying all this may come to some as a shock, to more it will answer that question that people always want to ask but won’t until I do it for them.

I was in the care of Enable Ireland until I was 18 and then was discharged to make my way in life. Not once could I say my disability caused me to think badly of my life or anything my own head and brain did that for me. I can be very resourceful when I need to be.

I have just realised that as I move through the next few decades I will need to listen to my body because as I say my body is starting to show the signs of age but let me say I won’t allow that deter me but I am acutely aware that things will start to change for me physically as I hit 40 which is of course is my next big milstone, Christ writing that is funny.

I gave up playing sport owing to knowing it was time to step back. I was lucky to be able to play with more able bodied players until I got to 18, playing youths soccer with Ferry Rangers and up to minor level with Tarbert.

I am so pleased I realised my limits at that point and it wasn’t me just giving up the ghost, I knew my body was crying out to stop. I will push my body but I know when to stop, it’s not being lazy it is just me knowing my limitations !!

As I mentioned at the start of this, I was at “Bressie” last Tuesday and It certainly made me think of the journey I have been on and continue to be on of course. Not all journeys are smooth and plain sailing but that is the fun of it. It’s how you bounce back from the choppy moments is how you will be able to say I found my way through that and will do again if I need to.

I use many traits that I learned from family, friends and comedians if I am honest. I try my best to make people smile on a daily basis and sometimes I will use myself as the punchline and seeing people smile is enough for me.

It really is the simple life I crave, I am on that road to getting that particular part of my life in place. I have sat writing and scribbling away for almost 11 years and I still surprise many when I say that. I am only recording in the past 7 years.

What I am getting at is do not allow things that may hold you back to define who you are as a person, find a way around them, ask the question, don’t sit back to wait for others to do so because I know from experience the question may never come….