Was last Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final between Dublin and Kerry the best game played in the modern era?
It has to be close. It was riveting stuff. Kerry were true to their word and pushed Dublin all the way until the final few minutes. Having conceded three goals early in the proceedings, Dublin never let Kerry out of their sight. Other teams would have succumbed but Dublin’s class was always evident.
This was a terrific advertisement for our game and both teams have to be commended for the entertainment that they provided on the day.
Dublin will face Mayo at the end of the month in the All-Ireland final. Their route to the final was difficult in comparison to that of their next opponents. As I mentioned last week, Dublin’s full-back line is weak and Kerry exposed this with great ease.
If Mayo can do the same then we are in for another great game. I don’t really have much to say about football this week. There are more pressing issues which I need to share. Since Donegal exited the championship my interest has waned. Maybe the prospect of a thrilling All-Ireland final will stir the emotions again.
I listened to a documentary on the radio recently about Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). A retired American footballer was talking about this condition and the symptoms that he suffers. He had all of them which are consistent with CTE.
It is a progressive degenerative disease and is found in people who have had several concussions or head injury. Symptoms include dementia, aggression, memory loss, confusion and depression. It may take years or decades to appear after trauma.
Boxers especially and those competing in contact sports are all at risk. It has been a subject for debate for many years now in the sport of rugby. Gaelic footballers are not immune to CTE either. Life after inter county football is difficult to contend with especially the initial few years. This condition is now something that should concern us.
As far as I know, I don’t have any of the symptoms yet! Some people would say that I tick most of the boxes! Depression yes! It was along time ago but still very much fresh in my memory. If I’m brave enough to have a swipe at people in this column, then I have to be brave enough to talk about the stigma of depression.
I cannot attribute my condition to CTE because CTE can only be definitively diagnosed post-mortem, i.e., when the individual is dead. I’m still very much alive I’m afraid! As a past sufferer I can empathise with anyone who has this debilitating condition. I have rarely heard anyone admit to suffering from depression. Even for me who has plenty to say and who is never stuck for words, it is difficult to explain. It is a dark place where there is no hope, no desire, emptiness, despair, grief and loss of rationale. It is horrible.
People won’t admit to this condition for fear of how others perceive them. I don’t have any such problems. If anything, my experience has changed my attitude to life enormously and all for the good. Suicidal tendencies are never far away when someone is in the throes of depression. We all know someone who has committed suicide I’m sure. For relatives and friends, coping with this ordeal has to be so difficult.
I had a friend who took his life 20 years ago and have never forgotten it. I can only imagine what his family and other families go through. In Ireland, suicide unfortunately is all too common. Donegal has had its share of such tragedies. Suicide is certainly more prevalent with young people although there are no defined boundaries.
Last year the Donegal 1992 All-Ireland winning team had a reunion. One of the charities who benefitted from this function was Living Links. This is an organisation which provides practical help, information and support for those bereaved by suicide.
Donegal has its own website www.donegallivinglinks.ie. Living Links is holding a conference in the Abbey Hotel on Sunday September 15th called Hope and Healing (10am – 4pm). Special guests will be there on the day. There are also many good organisations out there that help people who suffer from depression. AWARE and Pieta House are two of the better known organisations. As the advertisement tells us “Don’t suffer in silence”.