"I should have been more mature" - O'Sullivan's injury trail a cautionary tale for Sigerson casualties 1 month ago

"I should have been more mature" - O'Sullivan's injury trail a cautionary tale for Sigerson casualties

Darran O'Sullivan is eager to debunk the myth that, throughout his Kerry career, he was riddled with injuries.

The man didn't miss a Championship game for ten years, it should be said, so he did dodge bullets for a long time. But when the injuries did eventually hit, they hit hard and it was in and around 2012/2013, in his late 20s, when O'Sullivan's hamstrings first started to act up.


A decade on and, some things never change, the talk of the town at the moment is just how many young GAA players are fighting the same fires.

The Glenbeigh/Glencar player had a very busy year in 2012, winning a Sigerson Cup with DIT before making it to a National League semi-final and an All-Ireland quarter final with Kerry.

Just as it is now, the Sigerson Cup ran right through the Allianz National League back then and O'Sullivan had a very busy February, playing two National League games for his county as well as an entire college's campaign with the Dublin Institute.

He came off late on in that year's Sigerson Cup semi-final with an injury for example, and as it was the time of the Sigerson weekends, he played in the final the following day.


Zap it on from then to now and this early-season over-use of players is in the spotlight once again.

"It's a disgrace, it's an abuse of players," said Meath manager Colm O'Rourke after Meath's win over Clare at the weekend.

Meath duo Matthew Costello and Shane Walsh have both suffered hamstring injuries in the last week.

O'Sullivan talked on the most recent episode of The GAA Hour about his experiences of a hectic 2012.

"The injuries all started coming after 2011, which was my best year, it was a long year, and then 2012 was the first year I was really in bother with the hamstrings," he said.

"Later on in 2012, I do remember we went up to Westmeath in the qualifiers and I had the injury so I was on the bench.

"We weren't going too well at the time so they brought me on and I got a goal and I did another job on it. I remember coming out, Gooch telling me to focus or whatever and I was like 'sure my hammer's gone.'


"So I stayed on for another few minutes, we got a few scores, then went off. We played Tyrone in the qualifiers, and I was on and off with this hamstring.

"With the season so short now, one hamstring injury and your season is more or less up-scuttled. Because you're going to be around 8-10 weeks. Then psychologically, the trust isn't there until a couple of weeks after you're back.

"You could be three months out, and then trying to get up to 100% for championship football is very hard going."

From then to the end of his inter-county career, in what is a cautionary tale for players who keep on playing through injuries, O'Sullivan always had to keep tabs on what became very tight hamstrings.


"I lasted ten seasons without missing a championship game. But it all came back after I got the hip done then again.

"I got it done at the end of 2013 and then in 2014, I think I did the hammer, either a strain or a grade one seven times.

"Nothing serious, but it would keep you out for a week or two here or there, and just hold you back. Then I tore a tendon leading up to the Mayo game in the championship. That was the first time I'd ever missed a championship game for Kerry."

And one injury eventually led to another.

"Then I burst a gut to get back playing for the club, but tore all the tendons and had to be stretchered off one day.

"It all came from the hip and the tightness in the back, silly ones. I should have known better. You're trying to push on the team, trying to get fitter so you don't sit out training. It was a case of trying to get back out there.

"It was stupid on my part, I should have been more mature after being told I couldn't do it. But you'd be stubborn. And then you make the same mistakes over and over again.

"And the confidence in the hamstring just goes, when you're trying to go at full tilt, 100% sprinting (it just doesn't work.)

The 36-year-old was playing with his club up until last year and he's said that since retiring from inter-county, and crucially, since he's been able to manage his own load, the hamstrings have given him little to no trouble.

"I was playing up to last year with the club.

"But I haven't had a hamstring injury since I retired (from inter-county).

"But it is amazing, once you can manage your own load, and do the training that suits you, all my injuries cleared away. My biggest problem was taking that load of inter-county, my body couldn't recover quick enough.

"Ger Keane who was our physio, he'd know if I had an injury coming, because my back was so tight that it was inevitable. There used to be a competition with the physios trying to get a crack out of my back, because it was so tight! If they got any bit of a crack they'd be delighted."

You can listen to the full chat ten minutes into the podcast below.