Saturday 22 July 2017

My year was over after 62 minutes - McAliskey

Connor McAliskey of Tyrone will not play again this year due to injury
Connor McAliskey of Tyrone will not play again this year due to injury

Francie Mooney

'Sixty-two minutes into the year 2017 and it's over' … words of devastating resignation from Tyrone's attacking ace Connor McAliskey as he struggles to deal with the cruel fact that his season has ended.

A torn cruciate ligament means the Clonoe clubman will not kick another ball for club or county this year, a hammer blow for the player and both teams.

He suffered the injury close to the end of Sunday's Dr McKenna Cup defeat to Cavan at Kingspan Breffni Park with the extent of the damage confirmed by results of a scan a day later.

McAliskey was the Red Hands' top scorer in the season-opener with five points, and his loss will be sorely felt as they chase titles in league and championship.

But yesterday he pledged to work his way through recovery from surgery and back to full fitness, with a fervent promise that he will return stronger than ever.

Stronger

"My plan is to come back bigger and stronger and better," he said.

"You enjoy Christmas, but after that I had set targets, and I had planned to have a big year for Clonoe and for Tyrone.

"Unfortunately, the way it has worked out, that's not going to happen."

The 25-year-old inside forward recognises the importance of mental strength as he tackles the twin challenges of dealing with the disappointment and setting out a road map for the long road back to full fitness.

"I'll just have to pick myself up and get my mentality right, because it's going to be a big year's work still ahead to make sure I'm back and ready to play as soon as possible.

"You can't really control what's set out for you, but it's about how you react."

He will draw strength and support from the experiences of team-mates who have suffered a similar injury in the recent past.

"You have Ronan O'Neill, Ronan McNabb and Conor Clarke, who all did their cruciates, and Collie Doris from Clonoe as well.

"There's a lot of men who have travelled this road before, but there's obviously light at the end of the tunnel."

On the bright side, McAliskey is looking forward to reclaiming elements of a social life that is otherwise off-limits to a top-class Gaelic footballer.

"As much hard work as there's going to be, I'll also try to enjoy the year, look about planning a summer holiday for a change and look about enjoying a few weekends away that you maybe can't do with the schedule of the GAA. But I'll have to balance it."

Irish Independent

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