10/20/2009 08:14 PM

Donal Og Cusack's decision to state openly that he was gay is an extraordinary moment for Ireland.

He is the first sportsman in a sports-crazy society to ever take that decision. One that will expose him to much hatred and comment I am sure.

Irish sports, especially hurling, are macho pursuits, in which gayness or even a hint of it have never played a part.

The GAA, a rural-powered organization, is essentially a conservative institution where priests and bishops often play a leading role.

Yet here is Donal Og Cusask, not just any old player but a true legend in the game and a man who has still several years playing time left, coming out to the general public.

He does not know what reaction he will face when he dons the famed red jersey of Cork next year when the hurling season begins.

No doubt there will be many who will taunt and jeer him but I have a feeling that Ireland has reached that place where they know a gay goalkeeper is of no threat compared to what the many pedophile priests have done to the Irish way of life.

Donal Og has played in New York and I have met him on at least two occasions.

He left a lasting impression as a great goalkeeper, but also someone who was prepared to speak up on issues such as player power in an organization that had denied players any say for far too long.

Cork players are known as "The Rebels."

Donal Og Cuasck certainly fits that bill.

In another way though he is a hero, a man who has braved the toughest challenge of his life to make his point that gay men can be legends in hurling as well.

I wish him well.