When I started secondary school, I decided to take up badminton and basketball. The school didn’t have a football team. I won medals at these sports and loved playing them. I also kept up playing football in the evenings and weekends under the management of noel king. That was hard work! Hitting my mid-teens I noticed I was always falling and soon enough football was becoming a memory. I kept up badminton and small bit of basketball, but eventually they too became a memory and running was impossible. Thinking back I always seemed to find climbing stairs difficult. I don’t recall much of my late teen years, but I discovered that my right foot was turned for quite sometime and I was constantly having to buy new runners because I would wreck them. I always had a pain in my right ankle and I just kept walking with difficulty. I would be slagged and called all kinds of name due to the way I walked. Early 20’s I noticed my hands became weak and I would drop things. My GP thought it was carpel tunnel syndrome as I had played guitar and drums for years. My walk was getting worse too. I couldn’t tie my laces and found it impossible to put socks on myself. At 12 years of age I had damaged my left knee and we all thought my right foot took the brunt of my body weight while my knee was healing and this is why it turned inwards. This was not the case but it took a long time to find this out. I was given insoles which I hated and never wore. Years passed and I thought nothing more of what was happening to me. I had weak legs and I was constantly tired. In 2008/2009, my falls had become more constant and stairs were impossible to climb. In 2010 I went to Tasmania were I discovered it was difficult to swim. I was there for 3 months and arrived home in January 2011. Simple things like emptying the dishwasher became a huge task. April 2011 I had a biopsy, to which I waited and waited to find out my results. I had many blood tests and nothing seemed to be happening.
I saw the Paralympics was having an open day in UCD so myself and my mam went along. I tried out table tennis and the rowing. Looked at the wheelchair rugby but I was classed as “too strong” for it. So my only option was table tennis. I started playing every Wednesday and enjoyed it and made friends. Close to my house in the Irish Wheelchair Association in Clontarf. I still had it in my head to eventually play rugby. That was October 2012. I knew I was becoming weaker so I rang a guy I went to school with who does the rugby training sessions and asked could I watch, he said I could and I headed down one Wednesday evening before table tennis to watch this mad sport. I fell in love with it. I trained and found it so fulfilling because it was active and fast and reminded me of football in a sense. That was January 2013. I gave up table tennis as it was the same night as rugby and going from one sport into the next had me shattered tired. I had to learn the rules quickly and found the training sessions tiring but kept going. I never had to “come Out” as such to my team mates. They knew I was gay and nobody has a problem with it. Of course the banter does fly in training, but it’s never hurtful or in a bad way. I join in and sometimes it shocks certain players which I find funny I was accepted for who I am. As far as I know and I’ve asked around, I am the only openly gay wcr player in the world (not saying there are closet cases in the game). It saddens me to see homophobia in sports. We’ve seen Tom Daly “come out” and an odd soccer player here or there. There should be no need to “come out” In sport, we are all bound together by the love for our game and to represent our country to the best of our ability. Sexuality has no relevance to how the game is played. It’s been nearly 2 years now and I am still loving the game. I’ve made lovely friends and they are like a second family to me. I’ve been away with them to Cork and Belfast, Galway, to play within the Irish league. I’ve also been to Germany with the squad. Although I lost my one true love, football, I gained a sport that has given me the boot I needed to get used to my wheelchair and that it ain’t so bad sitting down all the time ha ha!!