Former Cork captain Colin Corkery admits he was scolded by Dr Con Murphy for unwittingly risking his life by playing in the 1999 county final.
The Nemo Rangers star told club colleague Tomas Ó Se in the latest Comhrá le Tomás podcast that he’d been feeling lightheaded beforehand and was struggling for breath at times.
Powerful Corkery got through the game and was top scorer though was later diagnosed with an infection in the wall of his heart and spent weeks in hospital including a period in intensive care.
Corkery revealed that he blacked out in his car and woke up almost a day later in intensive care with his hand being clutched by a concerned bishop.
“It was the week before the ’99 county final against UCC, we also played them in a replay, but it was the first game,” recalled Corkery.
“The biggest problem was that Dr Con was the doctor for UCC and he’s my doctor so I was going to the Nemo doctor and I couldn’t breathe for a while and I was kind of getting lightheaded and whatever.
“We used a ventilator just before the games, so I was taking the ventilator and I went down and I think Con actually said to Billy (Morgan) on the sideline, ‘What’s up with him?’ And Billy actually told him. Well jeez, Con killed me afterwards. As Con said to me, I could have died if it wasn’t...but I knew then at the time that if I’d went to Con, he wouldn’t have played me, he wouldn’t have let me play, not to say that the doctor in Nemo was (wrong) but I was with Con since I was 12 so it was a different situation.
“I went home one night, about a week after that, and I was driving into my driveway and it has a small little slope on it, and I drove in and I just went into blackout and the car rolled back and I was straight up to South Infirmary.
“I was in intensive care. I don’t remember going in, I remember waking up actually. It’s a funny story. I woke up after about 20 hours, my hand was being held by the Bishop, Bishop Buckley and he was praying away and I was there, ‘Jesus Christ, am I gone or what?’ He says, ‘Colin, I’m praying away, now go to sleep boy’. That’s all he said to me.
“But at the time it was scary because he had the full gear on. ‘You’re grand,’ he says, ‘you’re after getting the morphine, I’ll call the doctor’. Apparently he was after coming in a few times to me and the Bishop was a good friend so when he heard I was in there... he was doing his rounds and heard I was in there and he was there for ages praying with my hand up.
“I woke up and said, ‘Oh Jesus Christ, I’m gone I’d say, am I gone? Am I gone?' I came out of intensive care about two days after. I spent about two or three weeks in hospital. It was an infection in the back of the wall in my heart.”
The 1993 All-Ireland finalist also discussed his two-year stint in the AFL with Carlton and is adamant he’d have made it but for homesickness and the lure of playing for Cork.
He acknowledged finding the AFL pre-season training ‘horrendous’ and recalled being asked to run 100 separate 100m runs, each of 18 seconds or less with 18 seconds of a break.
As for long distance training, he got around that with one piece of ingenuity before being rumbled.
“They used to do a run, 10km, they thought nothing of 10km,” he said. “They used to have trams in Melbourne and the trams used to come up to Princes Park where we were and I was always last, miles behind everyone, but I’d buy a weekly ticket for the tram and I’d catch up on the tram. True story. I got caught. What happened was they realised I was doing it and one of the coaches came onto the tram and he was waiting for me.
“I said, ‘Will I put in my tram expenses for next week?’ He couldn’t stop laughing.”
Corkery reckons the current Cork footballers are on the up and is positive about the next few years.
“I always said, even back in our day, it’s always every kind of 10 years you’ll get a really good team coming up for Cork and I think that’s coming up now. I see there’s individuals from U-16 up to 21, 22, 23 that you’re going to get a team in the latter ages, the 23-year-olds I’m talking about now, and when they’re 27 or 28, those younger lads will come in and they’ll have a team at that stage and they might get four or five years out of it and that’s the way it’s been every kind of 10, 12 years with Cork.”
- Colin Corkery was speaking on Tomás Ó Sé’s weekly live stream podcast Comhrá Le Tomás which is powered by Benetti Menswear. The full interview can be accessed on Tomas’ YouTube channel.