Hurler recovers from chainsaw accident to clinch county title

Jamesie Donnelly gets a hug from his mum Helen and nephew Daniel after winning the Donegal senior hurling championship. 
Chris McNulty

A DONEGAL hurler has gone from being within inches of losing his life last December to starring in a county final win for his club.

Jamesie Donnelly was in inspirational form on Saturday as Sean MacCumhaills won the senior championship final against Burt, just nine months after a freak accident at work left him not knowing if he would walk again.

Donnelly suffered horrific injuries when a chainsaw ripped between his legs and into his lower abdomen.

He spent almost three weeks in Letterkenny University Hospital and needed three operations and well in excess of 100 stitches.

"I didn't know if I'd be standing again," he said.

"I almost lost my life. If the chainsaw had been a small bit higher, it would have cut into my spinal chord. I had a lot of nerve damage and I didn't know where I was going or what would happen.

"I didn't know what way things would go for me at one stage."

 Jamesie Donnelly with his wife Claire and children Ella May and James

MacCumhaills, who represent Ballybofey and Stranorlar, won their second Donegal senior championship when they defeated border kingpins Burt 2-13 to 2-9.

Donnelly played at full-back and put on an excellent display which included one goal-saving block at a vital stage of the second half.

His reaction said it all at the end of an absorbing afternoon.

"Personally, it is the world, from where I was in January after the accident. I didn't know if I'd be able to walk or work again. These boys are my second family and it's just magic.

"I didn't think that this day would come.

"The work and effort is second to none. It's brilliant. I couldn't believe it when the final whistle went. I've been so used to being hurt after big games with the club."

Donnelly made his comeback in late March, playing for Donegal against Wicklow in the Allianz Hurling League.

Donegal players Jamesie Donnelly and Danny Cullen 

He said: "(Teammate) Danny Cullen turned to me that day and said 'Make the most of this because we never thought we'd see you back playing again'. That made me realise what I'd been through."

James and his wife Claire have two children, Ella May and James Patrick, without whom he says his miraculous recovery wouldn't have been possible.

"I had a lot of good people around me and an awful lot of rehab around. Getting myself right mentally was something that I really had to work on," he said.

"I wrapped myself in warm, good people. That was something that I remember Jim McGuinness saying and it really stood to me."

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