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'I Have Had My Moments When Things Have Looked As Black As They Could Look'

'I Have Had My Moments When Things Have Looked As Black As They Could Look'
By Conall Cahill

Jamie Wall is a former Cork footballer and hurler who played in an All-Ireland under-21 football final in 2013 for Cork and a year later found himself wheelchair bound after an abscess on his spine left him paralysed from the midriff down. Wall was speaking on 'Off the Ball' tonight and there was a distinguishable moment when he really opened up to Ger Gilroy about the darkness that can descend when he's going through difficult times.

To listen to Wall is to listen to a determined, positive and quite inspirational individual who has spent the time since his injury engaging in various forms of rehabilitation all over the world to try and see how close he can get to walking again. His last post on Instagram, which would carry regular updates on his progress, is from four months ago and features Wall in Miami, testing his muscles that are affected by his condition and optimistically commenting on the improvements he had made from earlier in the year.

But there's no escaping the fact that Wall is going through something incredibly difficult and has been hit with something perhaps especially cruel for someone who so loved and excelled at sport. So it wasn't surprising when, for a brief period in the interview tonight, Wall opened up just a little and spoke of a side his Instagram followers or more distant admirers might not see: the mental anguish.

GG: It doesn't sound like this has ground you down at any point, notwithstanding the fact that you needed to stop going full bore at the rehab...you've been able to deal with the mental aspect of this along the way.

JW: Yeah, look. I have, by and large, I have been largely pretty good to deal with, I suppose. The flip side of that is that I'm very conscious of how I present myself any time I'm talking to someone like you or someone with a newspaper...you're always there trying to give a good, positive image of yourself. And that in itself, while it's good, I suppose there maybe is a small element of dishonesty to it in that it might give the impression that 'Jesus, he's great and he's flying' when obviously there are times when you're not flying, you know.

You think...you're going places that are a small bit more difficult than places you've been before...since I moved back to Limerick over Christmas, meeting a few friends from college and going out in Limerick, going out in the places we used to go out in and all of a sudden realising that maybe one or two of your favourite pubs in Limerick don't have disabled toilets. You're kind of like, 'Oh. I didn't realise this.'

And those aspects, sometimes you kind of...you dwell on them a second longer than you should have and it sends you down a road that you don't want to be going down.

It's not totally dishonest, because it is largely the way that I am. But I suppose presenting this image that I have dealt with the mental aspects so well is, in itself, maybe not totally dishonest but maybe not acknowledging the fact that I have had my moments when things have looked as black as they could look.

And Wall named his girlfriend as the person he commuicates with most when he is going through dark spells mentally.

She's probably heard a lot of things that you wouldn't like somebody you care about to hear...being able to actually discuss it makes an awful difference, and has made an awful difference, and continues to when these things happen.

That I can begin to understand why I feel this way probably makes it a small bit easier for me than somebody who might not be able to figure out why they're feeling that way.

As for his rehabilitation - which he is currently taking a break from - Wall said that he fully intends launching himself back into it soon.

It is something that I very much intend to get back into, and almost take this as a chance to re-charge, to wind down a small bit...but when you're doing something constantly and doing nothing else, it becomes very hard and obviously when you're not seeing the final results that you want it becomes doubly hard.

In that sense, the break from it and the engagement into something like this, that I have found really fulfilling so far, has been massive - even if you looked at it from my own rehab point of view.

Coming to the tail-end of it last September I was kind of saying, 'Jesus, I've had enough of this three or four hours a day for the time being.' In that sense, getting to move out of home, that kind of independence and lack of accountability, has made a huge difference to me as well.

The 24-year old is taking charge of the Mary Immaculate College team in the Fitzgibbon Cup this year, and the college clearly still means a lot to Wall, who helped them reach their first Fitzgibbon final in 2013.


You can listen to the full and fascinating interview, where Wall discusses his coaching career and further elaborates on his life and condition, here.

SEE ALSO: Mick O’Connell’s 'Off The Ball' Interview Was A Beautiful Reminder Of The Inherent Simplicity Of Gaelic Football

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