It is Wednesday lunchtime when I meet Damian Browne in the Harbour Hotel in Galway, a mere 36 hours after his journey came to an end on the rocks off the coast at Furbo. His tall, 42-year-old frame is slightly stooped, as you’d expect, given what he has put it through. The hands are surprisingly soft but bent into a permanent curl. It will be months before the ache in their shortened tendons and ligaments begins to fade.
By way of small-talk, I remind him of the interview we did almost exactly ten years ago, while he was at Leinster, and how he’d been accompanied by Elmo, a three-year-old golden retriever. Mention of Elmo seems to push him close to the edge.