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Galway Defender On The Road Back After Shattering Kneecap

4 July 2021; Seán Mulkerrin of Galway during the Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final match between Roscommon and Galway at Dr Hyde Park in Roscommon. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

By PJ Browne

"I was in such agony I didn't realize how cold it was or really what was going on," says Galway footballer Seán Mulkerrin.

In mid-January, just 18 minutes after coming on as a substitute, Mulkerrin broke his kneecap while playing for NUI Galway against Ulster University in the Sigerson Cup.

"I had my feet planted and was static, and then this small corner forward, nothing big, he's just coming at speed and whichever way he jumped in, he just hit the bullseye I suppose. Shattered is the word that they were using," Mulkerrin explains, speaking at the launch of AIB's The Drive series.

The game had to be abandoned while they awaited the arrival of an ambulance.

"I just found a comfortable spot and bided my time I suppose," says Mulkerrin.

"I didn't really notice it much at the time until people in the next few days or next few weeks were saying how long you were actually sitting there."

21 June 2022; Galway and Oileáin Árainn footballer Seán Mulkerrin pictured at the launch of AIB's new series, The Drive. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile.

His recovery has been slow. More than five months on, and he's only just returned to jogging.

"It was very tough mentally now, like nothing I've experienced before," says Mulkerrin, the first player from the Aran Islands to play senior championship football for Galway.

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"For the first six to eight weeks I had the leg up at home in Inis Mór. And then once I became a bit more kind of more mobile and faster on the crutches I was able to go in [to Galway training] again. Now I'm in full time really getting all physio and getting all the bits I can really.

"It's my first kind of major injury. Like I've had a few groins and a few hammers, but not nothing crazy like that. In terms of kind of mentally challenging, it was definitely challenging because you go from planning... The Sigerson game I came on with 20 minutes to go, and I was kind of building because I was actually out with a groin strain at the time. So it was actually building up fitness and getting back into training.

"And then your goals all of a sudden change to wanting to push to get on the team for the first league game against Meath to trying to put on your shoe or your sock by yourself. It certainly did change and was challenging but luckily with people around me, I got through it. I'm past that stage now."

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'I actually chatted to two lads in the Galway setup'

Mulkerrin missed NUIG's Sigerson Cup win, and Galway's victorious Connacht campaign, though he was maor uisce for the latter. His aim now is to get back in time to play a part this season for his club Oileáin Árann.

"I actually chatted to two lads in the setup," says Mulkerrin.

"Paul Conroy had a double leg fracture and was out for a good while and he's been great in terms of advice and challenges that he faced when he was injured and out.

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"Then you have John Daly there at centre back who has also gone through his share of injuries with knees as well. It's great to have those lads around you because they just make the journey back a lot easier. You can actually relate to them because they've been through it and more.

"I suppose after talking to physios and doctors in the setup, the first aim was probably to see if I could get back this year for inter-county season.

"When that wasn't really a realistic goal, the next goal was to get to play some part of club season and that's what I'm working towards.

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"If I do, it's great, but if I don't then it might be a blessing in itself because that extra month might actually not set you back as much then further down the line when the games start rolling and your body tries to keep up with the games."

The Drive explores the adversity faced by inter-county players in the modern game and what drives them to pull on the jersey year after year. Hosted by Ardal O'Hanlon, The Drive features the stories of four inter-county players and their journeys on and off the pitch, celebrating the incredible perseverance showed by players across the country, who despite logic, can't quit, no matter how tough it gets, because Tough Can't Quit. You can view the teaser for the series on AIB GAA's social channels.

See Also: Morgan Explains Why Armagh Have 'Unbelievable Chance' To Win Sam

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