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Lying on a hospital bed, crippled with a broken back, Sean Grant had to come to terms with his refereeing days being over.

A freak accident, where he suffered a horrific crash landing when falling from the saddle of a horse, put Grant's life in jeopardy - never mind his second career.

It was barely 24 hours since he had experienced the high of serving as Fourth Official at the Extra.ie FAI Cup Final when he suffered the life-alternating injury.

"It was just a freak accident. I fell off the horse and broke my back. The first thing that I thought about was whether I was going to be able to walk again...that is what I was feared," says Grant.

"The surgeon came in, I was lying in the hospital bed, and he asked if I was a sportsman. I told him that I was a League of Ireland referee and he said: 'Don't worry, we'll get you back out there'.

"When I heard from the surgeon that I would make a full recovery I was determined to get back. I broke a vertebra in my lower back, so I had to work my way back from that to see if I could ever take up the refereeing again. I was out of work for seven months and I missed the whole season in 2021.

"Basically, I had to learn how to walk again. Between trips to the Mater Hospital for surgery and lots of physio, it was a tough time."

Whenever he felt that his refereeing career had come to an end, Grant would find renewed vigour to push on through the pain barrier. As he puts it, 'I wanted to make sure that I would only be ending it on my terms'.

There was a lot of unseen work that Grant put in to make his return. And now he has achieved something extraordinary by being selected as referee for the 2022 EVOKE.ie FAI Women's Cup Final.

"To be appointed to this Cup Final is a reward for all of the hard work and dedication that I put in to get back. To get through all of the fitness tests and get back on the pitch refereeing...I'm just ecstatic to be back again and to get this Cup Final," he says.

"I was very close to being paralysed, to be honest. So, it is an achievement just to be back refereeing. But to get appointed to the Cup Final is something special, it is a reward for all of that hard work put in."

Leading today's Final will mean a lot to Grant. It will mean a lot to his wife Vanessa, daughter Ella and son Adam. And it will mean a lot to all of his colleagues who supported him in his recovery and from when he first started refereeing in 2002.

Grant knows how lucky he is and will not take the day - or any other day - for granted.