All-action Cahalane hoping to bow out on a winning note

THE THOUGHT of sitting home and watching television every night is “penance” for evergreen Castlehaven star, Niall Cahalane.

The ageless wonder is preparing for another Cork SFC final on Sunday against Clonakilty, knowing this could be his last day on football's big stage.

But for a phenomenon now in his 40th year, after an incredible litany of injuries, he is determined to make it last as long as possible.

Cahalane has had cartilages removed from both his knees, with one of his knees re-constructed. He has broken bones in his shoulders, hands and fingers and torn ligaments in both knees and ankles. In all he has undergone a total of six operations in a career spanning three decades.

"Having trained for four or five nights a week all my life it would be a penance for me to have to sit at home watching TV," he said yesterday.

"I will go on as long as I can because I am enjoying the game now more than I did as a youngster starting out even if I am not getting any better at it," said Cahalane.

"Of course I am conscious of the fact that my time is nearly up and that is why Sunday's county final is so precious to me. I know well it could me my last and it would be marvellous to bow out on a winning note," he said.

Cahalane acknowledges that prior to the championship, the odds on a Haven-Clon final would have been "astronomical".

"Nemo would have been considered the kingpins with the Barrs also well in the running and many would have fancied Bishopstown, Na Piarsaigh and O'Donovan Rossa," he said. "However, both Clon and ourselves gradually improved with every game.

"The fact that we beat Clon in the first round by seven points will have absolutely no bearing on this game. That was back in April and the conditions were atrocious. In the meantime, Clon have come on a ton and any team that succeeds in defeating UCC in the championship must be given the utmost of respect."

The battle-scarred warrior was just seven-years-old when he played his first competitive match with Castlehaven in a Cork south west 'B' U12 competition.

His list of honours are endless, starting with the All-Ireland success at minor level back in 1981. It was at senior level that he really made his mark and shared in all the successes of that most momentous of all periods in the history of Cork football, at the end of the 1980s and start of the 1990s.

He won his first county senior medal in 1989 when Castlehaven defeated St Finbarr's. He captained the Haven to victory over O'Donovan Rossa, Skibbereen in the 1994 decider, which took two games to determine and which attracted attendances of over 20,000 on both occasions. And he was also at the helm in 1997 when Castlehaven lost to Beara, again after a replay.

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