Sheer detemination has kept Matthew at the game
A YOUNG Ballyhooly teenager, who spent most of his time at the GAA pitch, playing hurling and football, had his life turned upside down during the summer of 2009.
Matthew O'Connor (15) was out on his bicycle when he was hit by a car, and spent 32 days in Intensive Care fighting for his life. It looked very bleak for Matt for several weeks.
As a result, Matt has an acquired brain injury. This meant he had to relearn from scratch everything from walking to talking and everything in between.
At the award, Garda Kathryn Canty outlined how when Matt left CUH six months later he was transferred to the Rehabilitation Unit in Dun Laoighre for three months, where he then underwent constant physiotherapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy. He celebrated his 11th birthday, while in rehab, and left in February 2010. When he returned home he began attending Enable.
Every day was a struggle but the one thing that never waivered was his determination to get back to the GAA.
"He worked his butt off in physio to get strong enough. His biggest fear was that he would be mocked because he is physically disabled on the left side and has to wear splints on both legs to help him walk better. His splints are blue and yellow, the colours of the Ballyhooly GAA team," said Garda Canty.
She outlined how Matt has never missed a training session or match if it's in his control.
"His legs would hurt and he would be exhausted but he loved it, and he would never give up trying. He has stood on the sidelines for matches in all conditions, more often than not, not getting to play but being there as part of the team none the less, " said Garda Canty.
Last year, he captained his team to win the Creed Cup, which was no doubt a very proud moment for Matt, his family and all his friends.