Hurling icon John Mullane has said that his religious faith and belief in God have helped him navigate the Covid-19 crisis so far.
The larger-than-life Waterford great said people might be surprised to hear that he has “taken church back into my life” and is there “at every opportunity I get”.
Five-time All-Star Mullane said his religion has been a particular help in the last fortnight as the coronavirus emergency has unfolded, forcing the State into lockdown.
Mullane’s comments are part of an interview conducted by former Offaly hurler Brian Carroll for his new podcast, A Hurler’s Life.
“People might say: ‘Jeez, I wouldn’t have thought he was like that’,” said Mullane, best known these days for his passionate radio commentary.
“At every opportunity I get, I’ve taken church back into my life, going back to church. You might ask me: ‘Well, what do you believe in?’. I believe there’s a God and within the last 10 days, 14 days, I’ve been doing an awful lot of praying.
“To me, it’s another 40 minutes where you can go into a church and it’s just silence and you can just switch off, there’s no cameraphone, there’s no selfies, it’s just a lovely 40 minutes where you can go in and you don’t hear (anything). It’s a break away from the outside world.
“Another place I love going to is for a jacuzzi or a sauna. I suppose the two places where you won’t see an iPhone or a cameraphone or people taking selfies are in a church and in a leisure centre where they have a jacuzzi and sauna. I love that way of life now, where you can switch off for an hour or two hours.”
De La Salle clubman Mullane has plenty to be thankful for and recalled how he cheated death in 2005 after swallowing his tongue.
He said he also suffered “an epileptic fit” at the time after receiving a heavy shoulder and striking his head off the ground during a county quarter-final.
Luckily for Mullane, a player on the opposing team “got the referee’s pen and flicked back my tongue and it effectively saved my life”.
“I was in the back of the ambulance with my now-wife,” he said. “I was so out of it. The lads said it was so funny that I was trying to break out of the ambulance and trying to get back onto the field to play the match. I woke up then a couple of hours later. There I was, stuck in a hospital bed. Nobody knew about concussion back then, that was 15 years ago. You hear that with concussion now you could be out for three months, six weeks. I got out of hospital on the Wednesday and played the club semi-final that Sunday and a county final two weeks later. Looking back on it now, it was actually crazy what I done.”
Asked about his education, Mullane said that he was a “very good student up to third year” but that “going to college probably wasn’t the be-all-and-end-all and (I) probably look back in regret that when I got to fifth year, sixth year, I kind of lost interest”.
He completed an electrician apprenticeship, but the economic crash of the late 2000s forced a career change. The 2008 All-Ireland finalist said that there were times in his career when he could have made the wrong decision, and is thankful now that he didn’t.
“You can go down two paths in life, you can go the wrong path or you can go the right path,” he said. “There were times in my career where I could have well gone down the wrong path. Believe it or not, hurling was my saviour. A stick and a ball are sometimes your best friends and that’s being honest with you. And your club-mates are your best friends, those are the lads that pull you through.
“There were often times where I was in very, very bad places in my life outside of hurling, but hurling was always there to row me back in and get me back on the right path, and thankfully I’ve now gone down the right path and I’ve been afforded some fantastic opportunities through hurling and I’m forever grateful for it.”