Jamie Wall: 'I haven't given up on the dream, which is to get out of the wheelchair'
Jamie Wall felt he got a bit of his life back on Monday evening when he took possession of a Volkswagen car in Skibbereen and drove home to Kilbrittan for the first time.
The former Cork underage dual star has been paralysed from the midriff since last summer after developing an abscess on his spine.
But as he got into the car on a bright, sunny evening and took in the west Cork landscape he felt a great sense of liberation.
"It might have been helped by the weather and the west Cork scenery but I just felt that bit more like I had taken some degree of my life back," he says.
"Not as much as I obviously want or as I still aim to get. But it was like an epiphany moment where you look ahead and say 'right, that's one bridge crossed'.
"Like anyone else you want to do as much as you can on your own."
Wall (right) has returned home after spending four and a half months in the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire, but the search for a breakthrough remains relentless. Thus, a fundraising hurling challenge match between Kilkenny and league finalists Cork at Pairc Ui Rinn on Saturday (7.0).
Wall, an All-Ireland minor and U-21 football finalist, recently spent time in Prime Physio which is a specialist therapy centre in Cambridge.
"The stuff they were doing was eye-opening. Since that I have invested in one or two pieces of equipment to add to a home set-up that I am working away at, the main aim being to keep in the best possible shape to take advantage of whatever developments might be coming along in the next year," he says.
"I am hopeful there could be something a little closer to home in the near future.
"I don't just blindly believe it's going to get better. That's a stupid attitude. But when I was in Prime Physio there was a mantra there which was 'training is the opposite of wishing'. That's where I am with it.
"I got an extension in Dun Laoghaire there because there were one or two small flickers, little brighter signs. We took them as far as we could and the decision was made that the best thing would be to go home for a while.
"While I will obviously keep chasing recovery and haven't remotely given up on the dream, which is to get out of the wheelchair, there is no reason why I can't at least live a good life in the meantime."
He admits there are difficult times and watching games of hurling and Gaelic football are becoming harder.
"I would rather watch Manchester United than Cork," he says. "I was never going to play for United. But I was holding on to the dream of playing with Cork up until June 27 last year.
"You are looking at your friends and you are happy that they won. I don't know if bitter is the right word, but I don't know how fellas retire, having seen this."
Wall remains greatly appreciative of the support from both the Cork and Kilkenny County Boards since his life-changing experience.
l The Friends of Jamie Wall SH challenge between Cork and Kilkenny throws in at 7.0 on Saturday night in Pairc Ui Rinn.