Watching Kilmacud Crokes and Dublin half forward Ryan O’Dwyer enjoy his hurling again is the tonic so many people needed, let alone Ryan, following a horrible encounter late around one year ago.
As was well documented at that time O’Dwyer, while on a night out during a trip to Birmingham, was the victim of an unprovoked attack outside a night club. Ryan suffered a fractured skull, broken jaw and quite a severe brain bleed.
The road to recovery was long and uncharted but for the intervention and guidance from the Dublin team doctor Chris Thompson. And this weekend Ryan can look forward to Club Championship action as he, and his Kilmacud Crokes teammates, will face reigning champions Cuala in this year’s Senior A Hurling Final in Parnell Park.
“It would mean a lot to win a county final at any stage but I suppose if we do win, I’ll look back and see the road I travelled and say, ‘Jeez, I’m one stubborn man” O’Dwyer told the Irish Examiner.
Earlier this year Ryan returned to Inter County hurling and a lot weren’t sure, due the severity of his injuries, if they’d see the same brash and hard nosed Ryan O’Dwyer they were used to.
“No, I’m still reckless, still a destruction derby!” he joked.
On his journey back, Ryan was a different person. Irritable, prone to anger, both symptoms of a brain injury. But his steely determination never faltered, much like the combative nature known to anyone that’s come up against, or has had to mark the Kilmacud hard man.
Ryan didn’t want to come back half cocked, he wanted to be able to play the hurling he’d grown up playing, otherwise there really wasn’t much point.
“When I knew I was allowed to go back hurling, Donncha O’Brien (doctor) said to ease into it, try to avoid slaps. But then I said it to Chris Thompson that that’s when you get injured, when you are holding back, that’s when you get a slap. And he said for your own sake, don’t change your game.”
He may have lost his sense of smell and a change in his sense of taste, but his style, ferociousness, tenacity and primal love of hurling has been maintained, better than ever.
“I had to ask myself what got me to where I am?” he added. “I know I’m not the best hurler out there but I’m playing at a reasonably high level and what got me to this stage is the way I play so I said I wasn’t going to abandon that.”
Kilmacud Crokes take on Cuala for the Dublin Senior A Hurling Championship title this Saturday at 3:00pm in Parnell Park.