You don't have to have been a sportsperson to have gone through what Dessie Fitzgerald has been through. You don't have to be a sportsperson to take inspiration from his incredible story. But somehow, sport, and in particular the fierce love of the GAA, permeated an incredible interview that the Cork man gave to The Late Late Show last night.
In an emotionally charged exchange with host Ryan Tubridy, the former Charleville hurler spoke of a devastating fourteen month period that turned life as he knew it on it's head, between August 2011 and December 2012.
It was on a summer's eve eight years ago that Dessie would come across the body of his younger brother Mike on a farm his father rented after the 23-year-old had taken his own life.
Still reeling from the catastrophic trauma, it would be only two months later when representing his beloved Charleville that life would deal him another crushing blow.
Having thrown himself at an opponent attempting to block a shot on goal, Dessie was involved in a freak collision that saw him fracture his C4 vertebrae and severely damage his spinal cord.
Months in the National Rehabilitation Centre followed in the lead-up to his wedding to fiancée Sarah, but on his return to everyday life, Fitzgerald struggled, slipping into a deep depression. The low was compounded late in 2012, when his sixteen-year-old brother James would collapse suddenly one afternoon, eventually passing away from sudden adults death syndrome (SADS).
"Words can't describe how low I was, how I felt. I was thinking that's it for me", said the now father-of-two.
It was whilst sitting with his other brother Conor in a doctor's waiting room where Dessie made a decision that would turn his life around, a decision that would result in not only a mental health resurgence but a physical one too.
Now a fully trained counsellor in his own right, Dessie has turned his hand to helping others with their woes and has opened his own life coaching clinic.
Last night's interview sparked an outpouring of support and well-wishes from the GAA community for Dessie - a community that he remains very much part of.
Here are just some of the reactions to what was a truly touching piece of television.
What courage by Dessie Fitzgerald on the late late show. 🙌🏼🙌🏼 #latelateshow
— Kieran Donaghy (@starryboy14) April 19, 2019
Dessie FitzGerald 👏👏 an inspiration to all! What a positive man! #LateLateShow
— Damien Comer (@DamoComer) April 19, 2019
Dessie Fitzgerald on #LateLateShow mental strength and resilience defined. Thanks for sharing
— Tom Parsons (@TomParsons_8) April 19, 2019
— Henry Shefflin (@ShefflinHenry) April 19, 2019
Dessie summed up his journey with a rallying call to anyone going through hard times.
We underestimate ourselves.
If someone would have said to me I'd have to go through all this, I'd have said there's no way I'd cope. But I have.