Michael Cahalane’s decisive goal to ensure Cork’s victory over Tipperary crowned his long journey back from being told he’d never play hurling again, writes Stephen Barry.
The Bandon native was told in 2014 that an enlarged heart and viral infection would likely end his hurling days. However, his refusal to give up on finding a way back saw him resume the sport he loves last summer at club level.
Now, three years after receiving that devastating news, he marked his championship debut with a goal that ended the All-Ireland champions’ hopes of a winning start.
Cork selector Diarmuid O’Sullivan said after full-time: “The game of hurling is secondary to what that man and his family went through. And you know what, whatever about Michael, I’d love to meet his mother and father right now. They must be the two proudest people here, and his immediate family.
“His first chance, his first break of the ball, but Michael Cahalane is doing that since he was 14 years of age. He was unbelievably unlucky not to start but it’s his mother and father and the justification for the journey that lad and his family have been through. There’s no better sight. There’s no better feeling for that young fella right now.”
Conor Lehane, Cork’s top-scorer with 0-10, added: “You couldn’t be happier for a fella like that. He’s a gent and he’s been absolutely hopping in training and coming on in league games. I wasn’t overly surprised that he came in and made a difference.”
Great to see Michael Cahalane on the field. 2 years he was told he couldn't play again. 👏🏻— Brian Hurley (@BrianHurley15) May 21, 2017
Goalkeeper Anthony Nash said: “It’s a great story, isn’t it? He was told he mightn’t hurl again.
“He’s a top man. He’s a great fella to have back in the panel. He has a great attitude. He’s a beautiful hurler, he’s a class act and he’s shown any time he’s played how good he is.
“It’s nice for him today, it’s nice for all of the lads really. They showed great effort.
“But we have to start building for the next game and put back-to-back performances together.”