In this evening’s thrilling Munster Championship opener, Cork shocked the hurling world with a 2-27 to 1-26 victory over Tipperary. The second goal arrived from one Michael Cahalane, a fairytale only fitting for the Bandon club man.
Many Cork natives are aware of the tale of the former underage star. An outstanding hurler from a young age, Cahalane was expected to excel in the red jersey for many years.
The Rebels underage drought in recent years hasn’t produced many bright sparks, but Cahalane was always touted as one of the few shining lights.
When Cahalane’s excellent form continued with the Cork minors in 2013 and Hamilton High School’s strong Harty Cup campaign in 2013/14, he was awarded with a call-up to Jimmy Barry Murphy’s Cork squad.
The future looked bright for the Bandon native, a talented footballer also. Having made appearances in the National League, Cahalane looked set to be a star.
However, heartbreaking news in the spring of 2014 looked to be the end for Cahalane. Sadly for Cork fans, their shining underage star was diagnosed with a heart condition which would prevent him from playing.
While Cork fans were sure to be disappointed to lose a star, very few can imagine the pain Michael Cahalane must have felt receiving this news.
Two years would pass without the young man from West Cork taking part in a game of hurling. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, a glimmer of hope appeared.
In June of last year, Cahalane received the great news that he could return to action. A boost to his club Bandon, who would go on to win the Intermediate championship in Cork. Optimism also began to grow in Cork that a star may yet just return.
Having spent 2 years on the sideline, such is Cahalane’s commitment and natural ability that he earned an instant call back to the Cork squad for 2017.
Performances from the bench in this year’s league were encouraging. The public were understanding of the time it will take Cahalane to make a full recovery.
Great to see Michael Cahalane on the field. 2 years he was told he couldn’t play again. ??
— Brian Hurley (@BrianHurley15) May 21, 2017
Absolutely delighted for Michael Cahalane overcoming adversity. Never say never #corktipp
— Conor Stack (@ConorStack) May 21, 2017
On Sunday evening, however, something spectacular happened. Two years ago, had you told a heartbroken kid who just wanted to hurl that he would make such a magical comeback, it is doubtful he would take your word for it.
With just 2 minutes left in today’s clash with All-Ireland champions Tipperary, a ball broke behind the Tipp defence. This ball just happened to break a certain number 24 in a green helmet. That player being Cahalane of course.
Before Darren Gleeson knew it the ball was crashing to the net. The hearts of an entire county and anybody with knowledge of Cahalane’s story warmed.
A gentleman and gifted hurler, it is impossible not to feel a great deal of happiness for Cahalane. A true inspiration for any young hurler facing adversity. His is a tale of true inspiration.
Rebel fans throughout the county will be overwhelmed with joy with today’s victory. This day is extra special for 21-year-old Michael Cahalane.
Kevin Daly, Pundit Arena