One fella thought I had cramp and was going to grab my broken leg - Mahony
Published 03/07/2015 | 02:30
"Eight weeks ago on Saturday," Waterford star Pauric Mahony says of the horror injury that robbed him of his season.
You get the impression he's not so much counting the days as the hours, each one that passes bringing him back closer to playing.
He's back in the gym already, working on whatever he can. The leg itself is like an old toolbox - nuts and bolts there, a rod here.
The scars from the operation still look raw but in four weeks, he'll be off the crutches. At times like this, things normally taken for granted, like walking unaided, count for something. The small milestones help keep you sane.
The memory of the incident is still fresh in his head. He took a hit at an awkward angle. The opponent in question has been in touch since.
"One of those things" Mahony muses now. He felt no pain but the sight of his leg pointing in an unnatural direction told him everything he needed to know.
"I was going through with a ball and the full-back came out and I hand-passed to the man inside and momentum brought us together," he recalls.
"Maybe I turned to try take a shoulder and I opened my leg up then and he came through."
Mahony is determined to keep the good side out. That surgeon Tadhg O'Sullivan was at the game was a blessing.
"Within minutes, he had formed a makeshift splint with hurls and towels and the leg was back in place," he says.
"That probably saved me a lot of time and pain as well. The adrenaline at the time meant I didn't feel him popping the leg back in. It was good to get it done there and then."
However, not all offers of help were as welcome.
"I knew on impact it was broken," he explains. "I was in a daze on the ground and there was loads of commotion going on above me because the players reacted. They were nearly worse than me.
"I looked down at my leg and knew I was gone. I just put my head back and covered my face because I didn't want to look at it.
"One fella thought I had a cramp and he was going to grab my leg and he looked down and he saw it and he quickly ran away!"
Mahony had family on the field, on the sideline and in the crowd. Many in the stand thought it was a head injury. In that context, a leg break was welcome news.
"Once the message went up it was my leg in a way it was a sigh of relief because a lot of people thought it was my head at the start," he says.
At that stage, Mahony's thoughts had already moved on to what he will miss this year. Waterford had been robbed of a key figure in their league success.
"There were people coming in off the sideline and I remember some of them saying, 'You'll be grand with the pain,' and I says, 'It's not the pain I'm in, it's my year over'," he recalls.
"Literally pain was the last thing on my mind. It was the fact that we were on such a high after winning the League the week before.
"I suppose I would have preferred that the club games didn't go ahead because when you're in the zone with Waterford, you're in the zone.
"But look, it could have happened walking down the road."
The recovery is on. Given he can't drive, the Waterford squad still pick him up for gym sessions and take him for lunch. A benefit game was held for him and Pieta House. On match day he's involved too as Waterford carry on their big adventure.
The few days in hospital afterwards meant he missed a handful of his final exams. They'll have to be sat in August. He'll be hoping Waterford are in the thick of things then too. But he won't be involved.
"The surgeon told me it would be next year because there's such work going on," he says. "I've a load of screws and a rod going from my knee down to my foot, so it will be next year because you can't take any chances."