Shane Carthy has come a long, long way.
The Dubin midfielder kicked two vital points when he came on for Niall Scully in Sunday’s O’Byrne Cup final win over Kildare.
That cameo came on the back of a couple of starts for Jim Gavin’s men but the Naomh Mearnog man knows he faces one hell of a battle to break into the Dublin team with the likes of Michael Darragh Macauley, Dennis Bastick, Cian O’Sullivan and impressive newcomer Emmet O Conghaile all fighting for that role.
Carthy has enjoyed much success in the half forward line for the Boys in Blue at underage level but with a wealth of talent at Gavin’s disposal, the 21-year-old will know he has his work cut out to make the starting 15.
But battles are nothing new to Carthy – he has fought the biggest of them and come out clean on the other side.
April is a busy month for inter-county footballers with the Allianz Football Leagues drawing to a close before counties begin the serious stuff and prepare for the Championship.
But in April, 2012, Carthy faced a much different battle as he was admitted into St Pat’s to undergo treatment for crippling depression.
From pushing for a squad place in a star-studded Dublin panel with aspirations of donning the famous blue jersey in front of the hill on a sunny summer Sunday, Carthy found himself clouded in darkness and engulfed by anxiety.
A decision had to be made and the level-headed youngster took the brave steps to get himself on the road to recovery. In an era when the stigma around mental issues remains its biggest enemy, his logical and approach is to be commended.
“It was building up for the last couple of years,” he said on today with Sean O’Rourke last October.
“It got worse and worse in the six months previous to the Leinster final. I was diagnosed with depression just after.
“It was kind of like putting up a mask not only to my teammates but also to my family and friends. It was constant. But inside, there was something wrong. The last six months were particularly difficult, I had thoughts of ending my life.
“It was getting that hard — it was a very scary thing and something I didn’t think would come into my head. That caused my anxiety to build up. It just slowly deteriorated.
“My mam’s mum and dad passed away early February. I was planning on saying something but I felt it would be a bit of a burden with everything going on,” he added.
“I’m very close with my three sisters. I went over to visit one of them in Sweden and was hoping I would say something, but that didn’t materialise. I came back and had an All-Ireland semi-final to look forward to. I had a panic attack in training, which brought me to St Pat’s hospital.”
Carthy pleaded with anyone who is struggling with depression to talk to someone and the problem fixed.
“If you are struggling, you’re not alone and it’s definitely not a sign of weakness to say you are struggling. With the stigma attached to it, a lot of people think they are alone and in my personal opinion, it takes strength and courage to show you are struggling. If you’ve a broken leg, you go to the hospital and get that fixed, and if you’ve a broken mind, you get that fixed.”
Carthy’s life-changing decision to seek help has him back on the road to recovery and knocking on the door for a place in Jim Gavin’s Championship squad while he is also back in DCU studying sports science.
On Sunday, Dublin will kick off their Allianz Football League defence against Cork in Pairc Ui Rinn and Carthy is now a serious contender to get the nod.
Much of the pre-match talk will be about the wealth of talent available to Jim Gavin and Dublin with the forward line in particular full of household names. Carthy has won enough battles to know he can be one of those names this summer.
If you have been affected by this article call the Samaritans on 116 123 or visit samaritans.org
Cork v Dublin, Pairc Ui Rinn, Sunday, 2pm.