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Grace Kelly has resumed light training and hopes to be fit for the Championship.
Grace Kelly has resumed light training and hopes to be fit for the Championship.

Grace Kelly hoping to be fit for Championship

By Paddy Hickey

Less than six months after sustaining a serious knee injury in Aussie Rules action, Mayo ace Grace Kelly is optimistic of playing some part in this year’s Ladies’ All-Ireland Football Championship.

In late March, Kelly tore the interior cruciate ligament in her left knee when lining out for Perth side West Coast Eagles in a clash against Queensland outfit Gold Coast Suns.

But in the wake of surgery two days later in Australia, a two week stay Down-Under, and her rehab programme since she came home in mid-April, the experienced Mayo forward is delighted with the progress she has made in the intervening period.

“Things have been going very well for me, and, providing I don’t have any setbacks over the next seven weeks or so, I should be able to play some part in the championship games,” enthused Kelly, whose county respectively face Tyrone and Armagh, in the senior competition, on November 7/8 and November 14/15.

“I’m now at a stage where I’m able to sprint in a straight line, and I feel it won’t be long before I’ll be able to start doing twisting and turning in my training.

“I won’t be able to immediately take a full part in the training, but I expect it won’t be very long before this proves to be the case.

“I have been playing with the Mayo senior team since back in 2011 when I was 17, and I have good reason to believe that my run with them won’t be broken in this year’s championship,” added the ace forward, whose younger sister Niamh – by 16 months – also plays for the green-and-red brigade and the West Coast Eagles.

According to Kelly, who is working as a temporary primary school teacher during her stay in Ireland, a big plus in her recovery from her serious injury is the expert advice she has been receiving from physios both in Mayo and in Australia.

“At home, the physio of the Mayo men’s football team, Brendan Butler, and the physio of the Mayo ladies’ team, Jamie Costello, keep regularly in touch with me, and they are always available to me when I want to discuss some aspect of my rehab programme with them,” the Moy Davitts’ club player pointed out.

“As well, a number of physios from the West Coast Eagles regularly offer me advice and they also keep in touch with both Brendan and Jamie.”

Recalling her injury mishap, Kelly, who was a spectator when Moy Davitts suffered a 2-15 to 0-12 defeat by Carnacon, in the Mayo ladies’ championship final at the weekend, said: “My knee bent inwards after a girl from the Gold Coast team tackled me, and I just had to leave the field.

“Ironically, I was able to jog off, but after my knee was examined by the medical experts it was decided that I would need to have an operation on it.

“Because of the possibility that blood clots might develop if I flew home straight away, I had to spend two weeks in Australia after the operation, during which Niamh was with me, and when I got home I had to quarantine for another two weeks.”

In addition to her sister Niamh, Grace’s parents Breda and Jack suffered the trauma of being witnesses to her unfortunate injury.

“My parents had arranged to come to Australia for three weeks, and they were in the ground for the match against Gold Coast,” she explained.

“They were there with another three spectators who had come a long distance from the likes of Melbourne to watch their daughters playing in the match.

“Because of the coronavirus, my parents had to go home after just two weeks in Australia and leave myself and Niamh behind.”