By John Fogarty
Tipperary hurler Noel McGrath has spoken for the first time about his testicular cancer, which was diagnosed last April.
Promoting the Movember Foundation, changing the face of men's health, the 24-year-old recollected frankly about his scare in the week leading up to the Division 1 semi-final against Waterford.
McGrath had a lump checked out and having had it diagnosed on Monday, he was operated on the following Friday.
"It all happened so fast. It took me a while to realise what was actually going on, the shock of it all from the start. Even though I thought what this might have been, when you're told your body just sinks. It's just that word (cancer), that it's associated with, that knocks you back.
"Look, there was good people around me who helped me big time through it. That Monday evening, I decided to ring Eamon O'Shea, the Tipp manager. Obviously, I had to let him know if I wasn't going to be training the next day or whatever.
"The Tipp county board put out a statement on the Wednesday morning. I suppose it put an end to a lot of people speculating and wondering what is true or was it not. I didn't get any phone call or no bother from people; I got hundreds of well wishes and text messages of people wishing me the best and supporting me. I was very grateful for that."
He continues: "It was just a lump on my testicle. It was just very abnormal. It's something that you would notice very quickly. I knew straight away that there was something not right."
McGrath returned to action for Tipperary as a substitute in the All-Ireland semi-final against Galway last month. Following a rapturous applause from the Croke Park crowd, he scored a point.
"At the back of my mind, I always wanted to try and get back and hurl for Tipp; I wanted to hurl formy club Loughmore-Castleiney while at the same time watching myself health-wise first. Watching on, you just want to get out there. When Eamon gave me the call to come in, I was just mad to get in and help out try get over the line."
McGrath also praised Galway manager Anthony Cunningham for his words of encouragement following the final whistle.