WATCH: Hurling goalkeeper displays other-worldly reflexes to pull off point-blank save 5 years ago

WATCH: Hurling goalkeeper displays other-worldly reflexes to pull off point-blank save

It's a phase some of us go through that our mothers pray we grow out of.

We could of course be referring to anything from playing the bagpipes to eating paint chips, but in this instance we speak of one of the more dangerous activities in which an Irish child can engage.

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Forget your base-jumping and parkour, if you are a truly reckless adolescent in this country looking to engage in some death-defying stunts, just head down to your local GAA club and tell them you want to be a hurling goalkeeper.

It is just not a sensible thing to be at, and we speak with some authority on the issue.

From the age of about 12 to 16 yours truly was the Taghmon Camross netminder and it was a stressful existence. Even in Roinn II New Ross district hurling there were plenty of forwards with the ability to propel a ball at considerable velocity.

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For three or four summers I lived off my reflexes, wits and a big ignorant full-back who remains one of my dearest friends.

When another friend, an All-Ireland badminton champion, decided he fancied a go in nets I happily fled to the other end of the field and the relative safety of life as an ineffective corner-forward.

They will never leave me though, those terrifying summer evenings when you wound yourself up into some sort of febrile, frenzied trance in an effort to forget that you were just a blindfold and a cigarette short of the firing squad.

Which brings us to Antrim goalkeeper Chrissy O'Connell and a quite wonderful save he made in Sunday's Walsh Cup opener against Westmeath in Kinnegad.

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The Ulster men came out surprise 1-18 to 0-12 winners but their clean sheet owed much to the Loughgiel clubman's scarcely believable point-blank save.

Clean through on goal, the Westmeath wing-forward runs as far as the edge of the small parallelogram before unleashing a vicious shot back across the goal, which O'Connell somehow anticipates.

Anticipating is one thing, but getting your feet in order and displaying the reactions and hand eye coordination to deflect the sliotar wide show that we are dealing with a very special goalkeeping talent.

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There is no febrile, frenzied trance for O'Connell. Some of us are born to be ineffective corner-forwards, men like O'Connell are born to mind nets.