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Kevin Keane making big strides in recovery

Sport

ON HOME GROUND Kevin Keane is pictured in Westport before the All-Ireland Intermediate club football final back in February. Pic: Michael McLaughlin

Interview

Mike Finnerty

THE good news is that Mayo defender Kevin Keane is way ahead of schedule as he works his way back from a cruciate knee ligament injury.
Last Friday marked four months since he had an operation to repair the damage to his right knee; the night before he took part in his fourth running session with physio Martin McIntyre.
At the moment, there is no bad news.
The Allergan Westport employee is delighted with the progress he’s made since injuring his knee with Westport in the All-Ireland Intermediate club final last February.
In fact, all going to plan, he will be back kicking a ball before the All-Ireland football final in September.
“Things are going really well so far. The movement and strength in my knee is really good and it feels brilliant,” he declared to The Mayo News last week.
“I’ve had no swelling and no pain, so fingers crossed it stays like that.
“You’d be a bit apprehensive before you go back running but when you come home and it’s not swollen or sore, you feel great.
“And my legs feel so fresh, it’s unreal!”
It hasn’t been all plain sailing though for the Fahy man, and the initial weeks after his knee gave way at Croke Park were as tough as they were challenging.
The physical pain was one thing, but that could be treated with medication. The mental strain was something Keane had to grapple harder with.
“The loneliness in the gym was the hardest part to be honest,” he reflected. “Doing weights and doing the S&C work on your own.
“You’d meet people in the gym sometimes but I’d do a lot of my work in Castlebar [MacHale Park] so I’d be there on my own.
“When you’d be doing your gym work in the past with Mayo there’d be at least 15 of the lads there, the home-based players, and you’d be in a team environment.
“You don’t have that obviously when you’re rehabbing on your own.”
Support from his friends and team-mates in the Westport and Mayo camps though made the journey a little easier; one person, in particular, was a huge source of strength and support.
“Andy Moran is someone I was in contact regularly from the very start and we’d still keep in touch a lot.
“I found the first few weeks the toughest, mentally, and Andy was a great help to me around that time.
“Obviously he’d been through it [cruciate ligament injury] himself and I needed him more then, to be honest, than I would now.
“He was able to tell me about his experience, what worked for him, what didn’t, and give me feedback on my progress and how I was doing.
“Andy injured his knee in August of 2012 and he was fit to play again by the following June. But it took him a while to get back to full steam again.
“As he said to me, I’ll miss one full season and should be back ready, and raring to go for 2018.
“That’s the plan anyway!”
Keane’s recent appearance on RTE’s documentary ‘GAA Nua’ was a reminder of the realities of suffering a serious injury for an elite sportsman or athlete.
He saw working on the programme with Dara Ó Cinneide as a ‘project to focus on’ while he waited to underdo surgery and says he was ‘delighted’ with the positive reaction to the show.
Now his focus has narrowed again and is all about following the steps in his rehabilitation programme.  He’s got the key milestones all mapped out too.
“The next marker for me is to get a workload of running back into my legs, and get movement and flexibility back into them so that they can withstand a training load again.
 “I’d be aiming to be starting agility and multi-directional work in two or three months, and all going well I’d be hoping to kick a football in August or September.
“Now by kicking a ball, I mean doing a warm-up with the club or a training session.
“But for the head alone, if I was able to do that after seven months, I’d feel like I was going in the right direction again.”

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