POC: Losing My Pal Donal Helped Me Keep The Lions Injury In Perspective

Jason Hennessy

Jason Hennessy

Jason is the editor here at RugbyLAD and a proud Limerick man.
Jason Hennessy

Paul O’Connell has revealed how tragic teen activist Donal Walsh helped him to cope with his Lions tour heartbreak.

The Munster and Ireland lock struck up a friendship with the brave anti-suicide campaigner over the years and has described him as a “special” person.

The player, 33, told how Kerry lad Donal, who lost his cancer battle in May aged 16, put things into perspective for him. Dad-of-one Paulie — who has three-year-old son Paddy with fiancée Emily O’Leary — was forced out of the Lions tour last month after breaking an arm.

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He admitted: “I was obviously disappointed to get injured after the first Test but it was something I’d worked hard to get on and I was probably lucky to make it in the end. It wasn’t devastating. I’m a lot older now and I’ve experienced a lot. I’m better at dealing with it. I’ve Paddy and my wedding to look forward to. I lost a friend of mine this summer, Donal Walsh, and it put things into perspective for me.”

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Paul and Emily — who’ve been together for 13 years — tie the knot tomorrow week in France.

Speaking to Miriam O’Callaghan on RTE radio, he joked: “I thought she’d never ask me to marry her, to be honest. We’re really looking forward to it. It’s going to be a great few days.”