Helping you get through tough times

GAA footballer opens up about depression

Seamus O’Donnell, the Limerick GAA footballer, recently gave an interview about his ongoing struggle to manage depression.

Hands holding a gaelic footballSeamus left the Limerick football panel in 2005 when he was only 24-years-old. At the time it was said that he withdrew as a result of persistent injuries.


He said “in one shape or form” he’s had depression for ten years. At first he thought it was grief as his grandmother, and then uncle, died. But, after a while “it just railroaded” as he stopped playing football, placing blame on his knee injury.

No reason for it

The past two years have been particularly tough for Seamus. He said that despite having a good job, good family, nice house and no money pressures, he still felt he was going to explode.

It all came to a head in February when he was supposed to be going on his stag night, but had no interest. Shortly after he had a breakdown at work and spent the next few months in his bedroom.

Finding the right help

Once he felt he really had to do something about his situation, Seamus took the advice of his sister and decided to try getting back into exercise. For him this was a major stepping stone, that eventually helped him start to manage his depression.

While he said that a counsellor wasn’t his thing, he stressed that it’s important to find what works for you.

Sports stars opening up

Similar to other GAA stars who have spoken out about depression this year, Seamus wanted to talk publicly to try and break the taboo around mental ill-health. He said that Alan O’Mara and Conor Cusack inspired him to talk.

Nothing to be ashamed of

He was so taken aback at the similarities between Conor’s story and his own, he cried reading it. “That made my mind up that this is not to be ashamed of,” he said.


Seamus said that back when he was playing, “the GAA and everybody was burying their head in the sand about mental health issues”.

Thankfully things do appear to be changing as Dessie Farrell, CEO of the Gealic Players’ Association, recently stressed the need to support young men who are struggling with mental health issues.

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