'New York nightmare haunts me'
Alisha Jordan suffered a savage beating in the Big Apple to the extent that she lost her sight for two weeks and almost all of her teeth were broken
THE physical and psychological scars still remain but Alisha Jordan's spirit remains unbroken.
It's over two years since the 22-year-old Meath native was attacked by a lone assailant on a New York City street. Jordan was walking home with a friend in the early hours of July 14, 2012 when she was set upon with a brick.
The consequences were horrific as she suffered multiple injuries, including a broken nose and a cut that required 43 stitches across the front of her forehead, between her eyes.
The assault was so severe that the brick was smashed into pieces; Jordan was also left with two broken cheekbones, a broken nose and fractures to both orbital bones. A damaged nerve also meant that Jordan lost her sight for two weeks and almost all of her teeth were broken.
The cycle of reconstruction began as Jordan was hospitalised for an initial three-week spell, before two separate bouts of surgery required another six weeks in hospital.
Jordan says: "I definitely don't look the same as before but I've come to terms with it. I don't really think about it too much.
"I've kind of put it behind me and moved on a good bit from it.
"Of course there are times when it comes back up and certain things remind me of it, but I've tried to move on - and football has definitely helped me with that."
During her time in hospital, Jordan received counselling to help deal with the massive emotional and psychological fallout.
Jordan was told that she would never play football again but a year later, the Skryne girl captained the 'Cavan' team to victory in the New York Ladies football championship.
Reconstructive surgery had seen ten plates inserted in her forehead and nose, with her return to football allowed on the proviso that she wore a protective mask.
Remarkably, she would score the winning point in the 2013 New York decider, but she was back home three months ago when her father died suddenly of heart failure.
Life presented Jordan with fresh adversity but she's dealing with her latest setback head on.
She'll get by with a little help from her friends and family, many of whom will watch her play in Ashbourne on Sunday when the New York team play Derry in the TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Junior Football Championship semi-final.
She linked up with her New York team-mates yesterday, when they arrived on a flight from the Big Apple before bedding down at the Louis Fitzgerald Hotel in the capital.
And she's moving on, slowly, learning to cope and live again after a period when she was left terrified to even walk outside.
She adds: "I still suffer nightmares about it. There's not much that you can do about those things.
"I just have to take the best of what came from it.
"I feel myself in my mind that I've definitely tried to look at the best side of it, whatever could be taken from it.
"Put the badness aside and look at the good - the friends I've made and the support I got were unbelievable.
"Things like that have helped me to push how cruel it was behind me."
Shortly after the episode, Jordan underwent counselling for a month in New York, on a one-to-one basis.
She admits that the next year "really took it out of me" but she used every single day as an opportunity to return to something approaching normality.
She says: "Even just before me, there was a girl in Boston who was attacked in the same manner.
"She didn't come out of it as lucky as I did. I always have things like that in my mind.
"I was brutally attacked and could have been so much worse. Definitely, someone was looking down on me.
"I got back to normal and back to football within the year. I don't feel I can be crying over it - I turned out fine in retrospect."
Soon after turning a corner, Jordan received the news that her father John Joe had taken a turn that would ultimately prove fatal.
"I was in America and got the phone call out of the blue that my dad was very sick," she says.
"And I didn't get to see him then - he passed away before I got home. I flew out that night but when I got to Dublin airport I got the call that he had died.
"It was very sudden and not something that I was expecting."
John Joe passed away within a few hours of being transferred to hospital and his death has left a huge void in Jordan's life.
She explains: "I'd be on the phone to him every week about my games over in New York.
"I knew he was proud of me coming out of what happened and getting back into football.
"It will be bittersweet in the semi-final without him here. I know he'd be very proud."
Alisha's mother Eilish will be in Ashbourne - just a couple of miles from the family home - on Sunday, as well as her sister Colleen and brothers James, Mark, Johnny and Aaron.
Alisha smiles: "It will be great to play in front of them again - they haven't seen me play for a long time."