Cillian O'Connor's knee injury a cautionary tale for many GAA players
If you're not feeling right, this is worth looking at.
The bad news for Mayo footballer fans is that Cillian O'Connor is going to miss a good chunk of the Allianz Leagues campaign. The good news is that he has at least identified what was causing him issues with his knee.
The Mayo captain was up in Dublin, on Tuesday, for the announcement of eir Sports broadcast plan for the 2019 Allianz Leagues. He confirmed to reporters, SportsJOE included, that he had 'a bit of work done on the knee before Christmas'.
"It was just a small enough job, so it wasn't too bad," he said. "What I have been at for the Christmas, I have been laid up with that. You can see I'm not too bad moving about the place, moving on the rehab now in the next few weeks to try to get back."
The issue was caused by the running gait of the Ballintubber forward. O'Connor's style of running was putting a lot of force through one part of the knee, rather than being even distributed. Asked it was troubling him for much of 2018, O'Connor said:
"Yeah, it was probably something I've had for a year and a half or so. I was kinda feeling it and it was probably getting progressively worse, but we had a window there after the club to get it done, so we said we may as well."
"No," he responded when he was asked if knee ligaments were damaged. "It was just below my kneecap. The ligaments were fine, it was just a small bit of wear and tear really that the doc said we should tidy up to get rid of the pain and the pain is gone since I had it.
"I just need to strengthen up the area now because there is a bit of wastage around the knee. They are bit weaker now so it is just about strengthening that for the next few weeks, seeing then what it is like when I go back running."
GAA players across the country may have experienced similar problems and running on heavy pitches from autumn, through winter and into spring often exacerbates the issue. It is something worth considering if you are experiencing any discomfort or playing through pain.
An alteration in running style won't come naturally but it could mean avoiding that surgical route. It is worth considering having a chat with the club physio about.
As for a timeline of return, O'Connor admitted it was 'a funny one'.
"It will depend on how it reacts to when I go back running towards the end of this month. If it goes well I can train with the rest of the boys in early February and I can look to get playing in the League. Obviously, if it is a little bit slower the reaction to the running it might be mid to late March. It isn't really defined yet, but we will see."
Getting away from his comeback trail, O'Connor was only too happy to expand on what it means to have James Horan back as Mayo boss.
"He would have managed a club team in Mayo so he would know a lot of the younger players around the county," he said, "he would know the older players from his previous stint.
"He is a character who is always looking to learn, even in his time away he was upskilling doing different courses and shadowing different teams. I'm sure he has added to his repertoire over his last few months and years. It is exciting now to see what will happen."
Horan held trials over in Mayo to get a look at potential club and underage stars that may have been previously missed. O'Connor was not surprised to hear of the trial matches.
"As soon it was announced that he was going to be manager," he said, "the players would have been well aware that there was going to be trials and that they would all be playing. It would nearly have been unspoken and accepted anyway that it would be a clean slate.
"That is just the way it has to be, the way it should be, the way we want it to be. It was no surprise that everybody was due to line out and to be honest June 29 we got knocked out so lads were mad to play, to get the boots on."