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John Mooney's heroic innings the day after revealing his battle with depression - My 2014 sporting moment

The ovation he received was spine-tingling.

John Mooney acknowledges the crowd Mooney acknowledges the crowd during the ODI against Scotland in early September. He scored 96 the day after a candid interview about his battle with depression Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

SPORTSMEN AND WOMEN are placed on a pedestal.

They are super humans. Herculean-like figures that are seemingly immortal, unbreakable and untouchable. They are well-oiled machines that are tuned to perform to the highest standards both mentally and physically.

So when the details of an athlete’s mental illness surfaces, it’s difficult to comprehend. Such a revelation leads to questions with no answers. It comes out of the blue and is difficult to wrap your head around. The reality is, however, that sports people are the same as you and I.

Alas, there was no fairy tale.

In an ideal world, the ball would have flashed off the bat, dissecting the two fielders stationed backward of point, before racing across the outfield to the boundary. But, this is not a perfect world nor do such soul-stirring moments regularly transpire.

Instead, the Scottish fielder stooped forward to take a low catch and there it was, reality had struck. Yet, fittingly, all four corners of the ground in Malahide rose in appreciation.

It did not matter that the score under John Mooney’s named remained four short of a century – what would have been his first ODI ton – or that Ireland, eventually, lost the match because, in the grand scheme of things, such particulars are irrelevant.

The sight of Mooney back in the green apparel, less than 24 hours after revealing the full extent of his enduring battle with depression, was enough in itself.

John Mooney Mooney spoke about his enduring battle with the illness Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Mooney isn’t the first professional sportsperson to speak out, nor will he be the last, but in finding the courage to speak so candidly on RTÉ’s 2FM on the eve of the game, he raised the issue further.

It would be easy to say he batted with a “weight off his shoulders” that day but this was an innings of consummate mastery that epitmoised Mooney as a cricketer – gritty, determined and a display produced with his heart on his sleeve.

As he walked off, lapping up the applause which was for the man as much as the innings, it was a moment that made you tingle – the majority of the press box stood in appreciation.

There wasn’t the fairy tale moment of a century but with John Mooney’s actions and bravery, perhaps there will be a happy ending, further down the line, not just for him in his battle with depression but for the others that he’s inspired.

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About the author:

Ryan Bailey

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