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'I spent 20 years bottling up my feelings': Irish cricketer John Mooney talks openly about his battle with depression

All-rounder’s struggles came to a head when he left a Caribbean tour earlier this year because of mental health issues.

Image: Aijaz Rahi/AP/Press Association Images

IRISH CRICKETER JOHN MOONEY has spoken about his mental health issues and how an on-going fight with depression forced him to return early from a Caribbean tour earlier this year.

In conversation with Hugh Cahill on RTE 2FM’s Game On, Mooney revealed that an unresolved childhood trauma was the trigger for his illness and that it resulted in troubled teenage years and excessive drinking.

About 2 years ago, I had to go and start doing some counselling. My father dropped dead in front of me as an eleven year-old boy and I never really dealt with those issues coming into my teenage years. I got into quite a bit of trouble and I made a promise to him that I was going to play cricket for Ireland and that was the real driving force for me to even stay in the game. And a couple of years ago, I found myself falling out of love with the game, not finding much pleasure in anything really and started to go to counselling and that started to stir up a lot of emotional feelings and stuff like that.”

Mooney revealed that it was during a tour of the West Indies in February that he began to struggle badly with the illness but that returning home proved to be a positive turning point.

“I managed to keep on going but it came to a head this year in the Caribbean. I had been going through quite a bit of stuff. Drinking a bit excessively and stuff like that. That tour came at the wrong time for me emotionally and the decision was made to come home by myself and my wife and Simmo (coach Phil Simmons). It was tough at the time, it’s been tough the last few months but I’ve made some great progress and wouldn’t change it for anything because I really feel now that I’m in a good place and back in love with the game and enjoying things.”

Cricket - 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup - England v Ireland - M Chinnaswamy Stadium John Mooney, in action for Ireland, celebrates his winning runs during the ICC World Cup in India in 2011. Source: Rebecca Naden/PA Archive/Press Association Images

In an incredibly honest and fascinating account of his personal struggle, Mooney detailed the difficulties in opening up and keeping emotional issues locked away.

For the last number of years, I’ve started to withdraw from everyday life. Drinking excessively is never good and you’re masking your feelings and a lot of men don’t talk about their feelings and I’m certainly one of those people. I spent twenty years bottling up all my feelings. It was a really tough process to get to where I’ve got to here today. But it wasn’t an overnight thing, it was a gradual build-up and when I was out in the Caribbean, things had slipped and there was just no way I could go on with that tour.”

Listen to John Mooney’s harrowing but inspirational interview in full here.

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Eoin O'Callaghan

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