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Ryan O'Dwyer [file photo].
Ryan O'Dwyer [file photo].
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

'I'd be in her face giving out. I didn't know what I was doing' - Ex-Dublin star on recovery from brain injury

Ryan O’Dwyer is the next GAA hero to feature on Laochra Gael.
Jan 12th 2021, 6:21 PM 56,260 3

Updated Jan 12th 2021, 8:05 PM

FORMER DUBLIN HURLER Ryan O’Dwyer opens up about difficult periods in his personal life in this week’s episode of Laochra Gael.

Donegal hero Kevin Cassidy featured in last week’s programme on TG4, and O’Dwyer’s story brings another fascinating instalment to the 19th edition of the series. 

The Tipperary native talks about various aspects of his sporting career, including his years of hurling for the Premier County before later transferring to Dublin where he won a Leinster SHC medal in 2013.

He also recalls his recovery from a serious brain injury following an unprovoked assault in 2015. O’Dwyer was in Birmingham on the night of the incident, along with Dublin team-mate Maurice O’Brien.

The pair separated briefly, with O’Brien going to buy chips while O’Dwyer inquired about getting them into a nightclub.

“I didn’t even see the punch coming, I got hit in the side of the head,” O’Dwyer begins about his memory of the attack.

“I fractured my skull, broke my jaw and I had a cut in the back of my head as well from when I hit the ground.”

O’Dwyer was rushed to hospital where it was discovered that there was bleeding on the brain. 

O’Dwyer says that the recovery was the most difficult aspect of it all, and goes on to explain how his character changed in the aftermath with his family and wife, Clíodhna.

“I became aggressive, very irritable. I was a horrible person to Clíodhna. I never physically abused Clíodhna and never would, but emotionally, I abused Clíodhna.

“I can vaguely remember there were times I’d get angry with her and I’d be in her face giving out. I didn’t know what I was doing. A lot of it, I can’t even remember. It was a tough time for Clíodhna. 

“It’s now that I appreciate Clíodhna.”

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Recalling her perspective of that difficult time in their lives, Clíodhna wife added:

“Everything irritated him, he was so agitated. He would be really critical of myself, our son Oisín. [He was] critical of everything and anything, really short fuse.

“We were due to get married the following year and I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, what’s gonna happen here?’

“There were still glimmers of him there, so in sickness and in health and all that. I wasn’t going to leave him in his hour of need. I love him and I wanted to see him through.”

In another segment of the programme, O’Dwyer talks about his parents’ encounter with ill-health in 2012. His mother was very close to kidney failure in hospital while his father suffered a stroke.

“That was the worst moment of my life. The year finished hurling-wise, Mammy came out of hospital and my father came out of hospital. I went out to hurl in New York. I used to go into Times Square and sit on the steps where they sell the tickets for all the Broadway shows.

“I was walking in one day and rang home. I was talking to the mother and that was grand. She put me on the phone to my father and my father was a typical country man and he said, ‘Oh where are ya?’ I said I was out in New York and he said, ‘What are you doing out in New York?’

O’Dwyer rang home again the following day and spoke to his father who asked the same question as the previous day, and sounded surprised to hear his son was in New York.

“It was the same conversation and that was probably the hardest moment of my life. The man that I’d looked up to all my life, the man that was a hero [to me], I was having the same conversation two days in-a-row with him.”

Ryan O’Dwyer’s Laochra Gael will be aired this Thursday, 14 January at 9.30pm

Screenshot 2020-11-24 at 9.04.07 AM

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