THE WAITING GAME?Cathal Carolan has been sidelined since tearing his cruciate knee ligament seven weeks ago. His return date remains unclear. ?Pic: Sportsfile
The road to recovery
Cathal Carolan talks about missing out on Mayo’s summer
NEXT Sunday when the Mayo senior footballers take the first step on what they hope will be another road that leads to September, Cathal Carolan will be at home in Crossmolina.
The 24 year-old, who came on at half-time in last year’s All-Ireland Final, had surgery two weeks ago to repair a torn cruciate ligament in his right knee and has no idea when he will be fit enough to either return to work, or play football.
His second season in the county panel ended abruptly during a routine training session back in March before it had even started.
All it took was one wrong move. Snap.
Carolan’s job as an electrician on site in Westport is also on hold for the foreseeable future and, at the moment, his biggest concerns include how to spend his days, and how to get from ‘A to B’ while on crutches and unable to drive.
All around him the talk is of Crossmolina’s chances in this year’s club championship and Mayo’s hopes of ending the long wait. The man himself, meanwhile, is on the outside looking in.
Thankfully, Cathal Carolan isn’t one for prolonged bouts of introspection and is keen to focus on the positives.
Not that it’s been all plain sailing.
“I’m planning to enjoy my summer, do my rehab, and come back fitter and stronger than ever,” he told The Mayo News.
“I’m a fairly easygoing person so my attitude is ‘what’s for me, is for me’. I would never get too down about things. “You just have to get on with it.
“But at the time it was a disaster really,” he reflected. “It started to sink in I suppose when I stopped going training, and I was struggling to put on my trousers or a pair of shorts.
“I’m still very disappointed to be laid up but I think it will probably hit me a lot harder later on in the summer when I’m in Croke Park watching the lads playing games.”
Carolan doesn’t remember much about the night he tore his cruciate, only that his foot stuck in the ground while his body moved in the other direction.
The Mayo medical team took it from there, and he spent countless hours working with the likes of Liam Moffatt and Martin McIntyre building up the muscles around his damaged knee in the lead-in to his operation.
His team-mates and family have rallied around too.
“All the lads have been in touch, the medical team have been great and Andy [Moran] has been in contact a lot. My family and friends are a great help too, picking me up and bringing me places. I live in a rural area so having that help is crucial.
“I can’t put a date on when I’ll be back playing, it all depends on how I heal,” he explained. “I’ll do everything that I’ve been told to do by the medical team, and take it week by week.
“I’m at as many Mayo training sessions as I can to meet the medical team, but I like to be there anyway, and I go to all the squad meetings, I’m still involved.
“I was at all the National League matches as well, except the Dublin game, because of a funeral.
“To be honest though I don’t really like watching games, I’m not a great spectator. It’s hard when there’s nothing you can do to influence the match.”
Having observed Mayo at close quarters all spring then, you wonder what Cathal Carolan’s assessment is of the team’s campaign.
“I thought we had a good league, overall. We have a good base put in for the championship now and I think we’re going to have another really good summer. The lads will learn from their experiences during the last few months . .”
Next Sunday evening, the closest Carolan will get to Gaelic Park, New York will be via Mid West Radio if he tunes in.
As Mayo start their latest adventure, he has a journey of his own to travel. It will be one step at a time for both the player and the team.
“Last year was my first full year with Mayo so I was really hoping to build on that. All I’ve ever wanted to do is play football at the top level. It’s a dream come true for me.
“My life revolves around football: my diet, my work, everything. So I’m looking forward to getting back.”
And so say all of us.