ONE OF THE BEST Jason Doherty celebrates after scoring a goal against Tipperary in the 2017 All-Ireland SFC semi-final. Pic: Sportsfile
The way I see it
READING James Horan’s wide-ranging interview in these pages last week, I was really heartened when he revealed that Jason Doherty is making ‘massive progress’ in his recovery from his second ruptured ACL.
I’ll never forget when I heard the news last October that the Burrishoole man had torn the ACL in his right knee in a training session with Mayo, only 14 months after rupturing his left one against Donegal.
At first I thought it was just a ‘mad’ Mayo GAA rumour, like that one about Lee Keegan’s health a couple of years ago. That’s what I wanted to believe anyway, because how could any player suffer that level of bad luck in such a short space of time?
Before writing this column, I came across a sports medicine research article that was conducted in Auckland, New Zealand by Christopher V Nagelli and Timothy E Hewett in 2016. They found ‘strong evidence’ that more active athletes who suffered an ACL injury are at particularly high risk of suffering the same injury on the opposite knee within the first two years of a return to play.
Amazingly, the team of scientists found that nearly one third of athletes under the age of 20 suffer a second ruptured ACL within that time period.
You can only imagine the headspace Doherty himself was in when he was being helped off the training pitch last October, fearing the worst. Or the next morning when he woke up, coming to the stark realisation that he was back to square one, with a long road of tedious recovery ahead.
Jason did a fascinating interview with Mike Finnerty last spring where he spoke about how his recovery was going. To hear him talk about how he was putting in all the extra hours now afforded to him by not having to commute to Mayo from Dublin to his recovery, indicated to me how focused and motivated he was to come back fitter and stronger.
And there was probably a bit of a ‘novelty’, if you like, to the injury as well.
While it was a major setback for him, I’m sure when he got over the initial levels of disappointment and frustration, it was tunnel-vision to a return to play.
Especially having just seen Tom Parsons make the recovery he did. How much more inspiration do you need? Plus, Tom even gave Jason his ‘box of tricks’ for his recovery.
So the frustration and downright anger at the world Doherty must have felt after tearing his other ACL must have been enormous. The mental resolve required to get through that, knowing the many difficult, boring and lonely months of rehab that lay ahead is hugely admirable.
Unfortunately, Jason probably didn’t even get a chance to return Tom Parson’s ‘box of tricks’ before he needed them again.
I won’t lie, I would have had major doubts about seeing Jason Doherty in a Mayo jersey again after he got hurt last Autumn. He was getting the wrong side of 30, had a demanding job, had given his all for Mayo for over a decade – he could have easily walked away and looked after other aspects of his life.
But you can’t not be delighted to hear he’ll be back in the fold for 2021.
Jason Doherty is a class act, on and off the pitch. Anytime I ever dealt with him in media circles he was nothing but obliging. Although I’ve enjoyed a few battles with Burrishoole in recent years in club football, I’ve never actually (thankfully) played against him, but I’ve seen him at full-tilt and he’s a joy to watch.
He doesn’t get the credit he deserves for what he has done for Mayo either, particularly on a national level.
He’s been the county’s most under-rated player during the last decade and how we missed his pace, work-rate and scoring ability against Dublin last December in the All-Ireland Final.
What do you think?