Cork’s All Star forward Colm O’Neill is determined to bounce back from the third cruciate knee injury of his career.
O’Neill will undergo surgery on his left knee in the coming days after suffering the latest cruel blow in an Allianz League game against Donegal last month.
Writing in his blog on the GAA Just Play App, O’Neill has vowed to embrace the challenge of going through the painstaking process of rehabilitation again, citing Kilkenny hurler Henry Shefflin, who has battled back from cruciate surgery twice, as an example to him.
“I’ve been through this before, and I know what is required to get back,” O’Neill writes. “That’s one thought going through my head. I CAN do this. I’ve done it before – twice. Part of me likes the challenge of having to climb the mountain for a third time.
“Certain people, the great Henry Shefflin amongst them, have been unlucky enough to suffer two cruciate ligament tears. The list of three timers is pretty small, and it’s not a club I ever wanted to join. But it’s now a reality, and like it or lump it, it’s something I’m going to have to get my head around.”
O’Neill described the moment he suffered the injury at the start of an Allianz League game against Donegal at Páirc Uí Rinn.
“A ball was played into the full forward line and I gathered it ahead of the opposition. Upon landing on the ground, my knee jarred in the ground and I felt a chilling case of Déjà vu.
“If it popped I hadn’t heard it. I knew it was bad, but I hadn’t heard the pop.
“Lying on the stretcher in Pairc Uí Rinn, every thought imaginable went through my head. Was it the cruciate again? Why is this happening to me? Is it just bad luck or am I doing something wrong?”
Having recovered from surgery on his left knee in 2008 and 2011, the timing of the injury was particularly cruel as the Ballyclough clubman felt he had rediscovered his best form for the Rebels last season.
“2012 was my best year in a Cork jersey, on a personal level,” O’Neill added. “I had come back from a second cruciate ligament injury in my knee and had shown enough form during the season to be awarded an All Star last October.
“Although it was disappointing not to win the All Ireland with Cork, it was good to have a full season of football injury free, and I felt all the hours of rehab and gym work had paid off.”
O’Neill said he was ‘overwhelmed’ by the support he received from the ‘length and breadth of the country’ in the weeks since, and admitted it has helped him through a tough period in his career.
He also thanked Cork manager Conor Counihan for offering him the chance to stay involved with the county’s squad for the rest of the season.
“For now though, the next steps on the road to recovery are ones I must take myself,” he added.
“I am due to undergo surgery in the coming days, and from there on the long road back will begin. Again.
“This is undoubtedly the greatest challenge I have faced to date. It’s time to get started.”
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