Few Cork men will have taken as much satisfaction from Limerick's All-Ireland win on Sunday than Jamie Wall.
Wall is the manager Mary Immaculate College's Fitzgibbon Cup team, and led the college to just their second ever Fitzgibbon trophy in 2017, a team which included four superstars in Limerick's historic win on Sunday; Cian Lynch, Aaron Gillane, Darragh O'Donovan, and Richie English. He's also the coach of Limerick senior hurling giants Kilmallock, the home of club of Graeme Mulcahy.
Only 26, Wall already has an impressive managerial CV. Winning that Fitzgibbon title in his first year in charge of Mary I, he will begin his third season in charge in September, while he also manages the Cork Under 15s and coaches Kilmallock. At this stage of his life though, he should still be winning trophies on the field, but one day in 2014, those dreams were eroded due to an emergency operation on an abscess on his spine. The procedure left him in a wheelchair. Instead, he has refocused and it appears the sky is the limit for what he can achieve in the game.
Balls sat down with Wall in Croke Park recently as part of our #WeAreHurling series with Centra, and he discussed his obsession with sport as a child, his catastrophic injury, and his management career.
A former county hurler and footballer with Cork at all the major underage levels, Wall's playing career was just hitting full stride when he went to hospital as a 22 year old, but he's philosophical on what exactly he's missing out on.
You're always going to have that day or two where it just hits you. And it needn't to be something to do with sport, or it might be something to do with sport, where you must the strike or the kick, you know, you just miss that very basic thing that you get involved in sport for.
I find I don't miss playing here (Croke Park). It's amazing, it's an amazing stadium, and you're saying I'd love to play here, but they're not really the things you miss.
You miss the smaller things, much, much, much smaller. You miss playing 5-a-side with your friends. You miss going playing Pitch & Putt. You miss training on a Tuesday night. You miss those things a lot more than you miss the big things.
You mightn't have the big things anyway. You mightn't have made that grade, so it's a lot easier to write those off. It's a lot easier to write off the All-Ireland Semi-Final, because there's the realisation that John Meyler mightn't have fancied you, and you mightn't have made it anyway.
Some of the bigger things Wall didn't experience as a player may yet happen in hurling management. Given his pedigree as a Fitzgibbon winning manager at such a young age, going to county level some day with Cork is obviously something that has crossed his mind, but Wall knows more than most of us that we can't nail ourselves down to a definite future.
It's something that obviously is there.
It's a long way down the tracks, if it's going to happen, and a lot has to happen between now and then. You have to do a lot before you become the manager of a county like Cork, or Tipp, or Kilkenny, Galway, any of them counties that have such a big history and are big counties. They're big jobs and have to do a lot before you take that on.
I still have a long way to go. Yeah, I've had a great start to my management career, but it'd be naive to overly look down that path. It's the kind of thing that, look, I could be sick of management in five years, and decide to pack it in. Or I could still be loving it the way I am, and I absolutely love it right now.
So that is obviously there, but I want to do it the right way. I don't want to go into it and find I'm out of my depth. I'd rather take my time with it.
We're talking about maybe managing the Cork seniors here one day, but right now, I'm so glad that I'm number two in a big club, because I'm learning so much that, maybe, in ten years time, if I'm managing the Cork seniors, I'll say that first year in Kilmallock was one of the formative experiences of my coaching career, and a massive one.
Maybe in ten years time, I won't be doing that. That is something that is there but it's very far down the line. There's so much between now and then. Between right now and that happening, there's a multitude. There is so much has to happen between now and then. It's going well and I'm ticking boxes but there's a lot more to be ticked.
Stay tuned later in this week for the final installment with current Cork manager John Meyler.