Monday 11 December 2017

'I hadn't won a match of any description since November' - Healy

Cahir Healy in action. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Cahir Healy in action. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Michael Verney

Commuting from London to Laois has become the norm for Cahir Healy but far too often this year Sunday's return flight was filled with anger and regret after a series of soul destroying defeats in Division 1B.

That finally changed this weekend when a do-or-die promotion/relegation bout against Westmeath saw Seamus 'Cheddar' Plunkett's side raise the bar and deliver their best display of the season to finally secure their maiden win of a testing league campaign.

The O'Moore men have made steady progress under Cheddar's watch but a loss last Saturday would have left them out in the cold, far away from hurling's elite in Division 2A. Being consigned to the third tier would have parachuted them back to where they started the journey in 2013 and the relief on their faces told it's own tale.

You can only lose so much before it eats away at you, both individually and collectively, particularly for a team trying to adapt after a string of winter retirements. It was like a weight lifted off their shoulders.

"Personally I hadn't won a game of any description since November and I was thinking 'Jaysus Christ I have to break this streak soon'. When you haven't won in so long it dents your confidence and then you get a win and it's all lifted," Healy said.

"Sunday was the first plane journey I got onto where I was actually in a good mood and I went into work in a good mood, usually I'm hiding in work on Monday morning and keeping my head down away from everyone."

Living in England's capital and working in a primary school with year twos presents many logistical problems but such is the Portlaoise defender's commitment and influence, he was named as 2016 joint-captain.

Fellow captain Charles Dwyer told the 29-year-old that he should consider himself lucky to be "away from the abuse" back home during their dreadful run but it was as difficult to live your daily life surrounded by people who don't comprehend the demands of inter-county.

What he goes through on a daily basis to continue plying his trade with Laois is lost in England. Renting out halls to train by himself and getting flights home every Friday are the norm.

"They don't understand what playing with your club or county means, I don't think they get that dynamic where as they see soccer and it's just that you move up a level and you go from different team to different team and there is actually no real loyalty there," the former dual star said.

"They don't understand how club and county works and it's hard to explain to them. Some of them might ask 'what's that game you play?' and I say hurling and they think it's curling."

All the effort, all the hours spent travelling to and from airports, all the time spent in terminals pays dividends when you get a result like last Saturday.

Laois can now tackle championship with a renewed pep in their step and Healy can continue to justify the lengths he goes to to don the blue and white and lead the next generation.

Irish Independent

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