Fionnuala Carr

Fionnuala Carr – Talk about your mental health

Cavan Footballer Alan O'Mara

Cavan Footballer Alan O’Mara

Last night I was fortunate enough to have attended the launch of Alan O’Maras book “The Best Is Yet To Come” and the stories that both Alan and Conor Cusack told about their experiences of mental health issues was both humbling and somewhat frightening.

Mental health has become somewhat of stigma or hot topic in the GAA and we hear too many stories in the news today about people who have either suffered from it or in a worse case those who haven’t survived it.


At the top of Alan’s book the words compelling, honest and raw are used to describe it, someone also used these same words to describe the way Waterford hurlers played this way and it led me to thinking of how sport and mental health is often intertwined.

When Alan spoke about the book and the reasons why he chose to write it he talked about his journey he had been on and thanked a number of people who had helped him along the way.

Alan had his family first and foremost, his friends and team mates and the GPA, all of these people provided the support that Alan needed to pick himself up again.

Aisling Thompson the Cork Camogie captain  is another prime example of someone who has helped pick themselves up and turned their live around.

Aisling has become a role model for young people all across Ireland, someone who they can see at the very top of their game, captain of an All Ireland winning team and who was brave enough to speak about their experiences in order to help others.

I have never experienced the same level of depression that either Alan, Conor or Aisling has experienced but I have went through some highs and lows like everyone else.

My nana passed away this year and she was a rock to so many of us.  Dealing with the loss of someone like that is something that people deal with in different ways.

We are close as a family, I have fantastic friends and Camogie provides that outlet both physically and socially but they also give you the opportunity to talk.

What nana was always good at was just simply listening and knowing that there was someone there to talk to, my mum and dad are quite like that too.

I find it hard to talk about how I feel when I am stressed or worried about something but what I have learnt is that as soon as I confide in them the problem always seems smaller than it is.

This could be something from worrying about my career to having having pre match nerves and this has only happened in recent years as I approach the twilight of my Camogie career.

Alan talked last night about how he tried to hide how he was feeling and instead this made things worse for him, from being in that place to where he is now is testament to his character and I want to wish him the very best with his book which I can’t wait to read.

Countless people both young and old will be helped by the bravery of Aisling and Alan.

If you are struggling in life please don’t ignore how you feel or even worse downplay it. Speaking about even the smallest worry is a relief and there are so many people out their to help.

The GPA has a helpline available 24/7 and the numbers are listed below.


1800 989 285

0800 445 0559

I would just like to wish all the Armagh Camogie players and management the very best of luck in their All Ireland final this weekend.  They have been waiting on this for a long time now and they don’t come around too often so make the most of the opportunity and enjoy it while you can.