We’ve had more than our fair share of bad news on the injury front over the last year but this evening the jinx struck again and did so with what looks like sickening effect. Cillian O’Connor was stretchered off in Ballintubber’s club championship match with Claremorris this evening and @MayoGAA later announced that he was in Mayo General Hospital in Castlebar being treated for a shoulder injury he suffered in that game. The same source went on to state that it “will be a few days before the full extent of Cillian’s injury will be known”.
I know a number of you have already put up comments on Cillian’s injury with some claiming to know that he’s out for the year. I don’t think this kind of speculation is particularly helpful or that it serves any useful purpose right now. We all know he’s injured and that in all likelihood it’s a recurrence of the shoulder dislocation he suffered on club championship duty with Ballintubber last back-end. Whether or not he’s out for the year will become clear soon enough so it’s as well, I think, to await official confirmation before speculating further on this.
I have to admit that a deep pall of depression hit me when word first started to filter through earlier on this evening about Cillian’s injury. The Double YPOY had been missing for a fair bit of the league arising from the original dislocation injury but made a number of telling contributions on his return to the side – not least down in Páirc Uí Chaoimh with those two astonishing sideline points – and last Sunday in Salthill it was clear that we’d found our new long-term centre-forward. He played the playmaker role to perfection in Pearse Stadium, providing assists for three of the four goals, and doing plenty more besides, so much so that he was named RTÉ’s MOTM for his bravura display that day.
I also have to admit that one of the first thoughts that went through my head in reaction to the news was something along the lines of ‘fuck this fucking club football’, which has, since April knocked Barry Moran, Michael Conroy, Jason Doherty, Cathal Freeman, Brian Gallagher and now Cillian out of action. All of them have been gone for weeks, all have missed out on being considered for at least one championship match as a result and some of them may not feature again for the county for the rest of the year.
I know that this initial reaction isn’t fair – Andy Moran’s cruciate woe shows that serious injuries don’t just happen on club duty – but I know too that such a situation whereby county panellists are repeatedly put in harm’s way with their clubs at this time of year simply wouldn’t happen in some other, if I may use the term, leading counties. Dublin’s football championship went into the deep freeze after one round a few weeks back, not to restart until the Dubs’ championship run is over, and it’s unheard of for county panellists to have to play any league matches for their clubs in late spring and early summer (if at all). Up in Donegal, Jimmy McGuinness successfully managed to wipe the senior championship from the map until after Sam was won last year so there was never any danger that the Messiah’s wafer-thin resources would suffer any breakages from the club scene.
I don’t know what the answer is and I know that blaming club fixtures isn’t the answer (well, not the whole answer) but whatever way you look at it it’s clear that we’ve suffered way more than our fair share of injuries over the past year. After Salthill and Andy’s heartwarming cameo it was easy to think that the worst was behind us in this respect and that, with the likes of Barry and Mickey C back in harness in early August, the county panel could well be stronger than ever. Now this. However it pans out over the coming days, it’s desperately depressing news, not least for Cillian himself who deserves our sympathy and best wishes as he comes to terms with this sickening setback.