All-Ireland hero Graham O'Sullivan suffered panic attack in lead-up to final

O’Sullivan reveals he was overcome by stress during the build-up to last July’s final 
All-Ireland hero Graham O'Sullivan suffered panic attack in lead-up to final

25 July 2022; Graham O'Sullivan during the homecoming celebrations of the All-Ireland Senior Football Champions Kerry in Tralee, Kerry. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Kerry defender Graham O'Sullivan, one of the standout players in the All-Ireland final win over Galway, says he suffered a panic attack in the lead-up to the game.

O'Sullivan and Kingdom teammate Seanie O'Shea have teamed up with leading men’s health charity Movember to encourage men to open up to a friend to support their mental health.

In a frank conversation shown on joe.ie, the two players share some of their own insecurities and mental struggles. O’Sullivan reveals he was overcome by stress during the build-up to last July’s final and leaned on Kerry team doctor Mike Finnerty for support.

“The week before the All-Ireland, I lost my mind a small bit,” O’Sullivan said. “Because I was travelling up and down to Galway [for his teaching work] the whole time. And I was just so stressed out. It was strange, I ended up having a panic attack. And I’ve never had one in my life. And I lost my mind.

“I didn’t know what to do. I was with [girlfriend] Casey and she said 'ring the team doctor'. So I rang Mike, and in fairness he stayed on the phone for an hour with me. And this was about 11 o'clock at night. His wife is a psychologist and she was talking to me as well, just to calm me down and reaffirm me.

“I’d say it was just an accumulation of everything that had been going on in the lead-up to it. I’d just bottled it up and said nothing to no one and it hit me like a wall.” 

 

O’Sullivan had an outstanding final to cap a breakthrough year in the Kerry defence. It was his fourth season on the panel though he had struggled before this year to command a regular place. He admits that also affected him mentally at times and that he had also struggled with body image.  

“It was a rocky three years to begin with. I spent a lot of time training hard but not hitting that next level. I became a master at sitting for periods of time. But it’s all part and parcel.

“That [body image] was probably my achilles heel for the first few years in camp. I was more of the dad-bod contender than the six pack. I used to beat myself with that. But it leads into the instagrams and things, the unrealistic images of what you’re meant to look like.

“Looking like that doesn't really affect performance as much as you think it might. And if you put too much focus on it you start doing crazy things in terms of eating or overdoing the workouts and burning yourself out."

Movember’s purpose is to confront, challenge and change men’s health to save more men’s lives. Sign up, or donate now at Movember.com. #movember #jointhetacheforce …

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