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Connaughton craves another go with Westies

FORMER All Star goalkeeper Gary Connaughton has recommitted himself to the Westmeath cause next season - presuming he makes a full recovery from his double ankle break.

Connaughton had been Westmeath skipper earlier this year only to opt out for the summer and travel to Boston, where his suffered an injury nightmare in the opening five minutes of his first game for the Wolfe Tones club.

The giant netminder is now back training in the gym with Westmeath and, presuming his rehab remains on schedule, hopes to be available for selection by January or February.

And he revealed that watching his county colleagues almost topple Kerry in a qualifier last July convinced the 33-year-old that it wasn't time to hang up his inter-county gloves just yet.

"I was half-thinking of trying to step down but, after coming home, I was in the stand for the Kerry game and I said, 'I don't want to finish up this way'," Connaughton told the Herald. "Come the National League, if the ankle isn't right I will have to re-evaluate it - but I'm going to give it a go."

Connaughton's Stateside adventure was cut short when he broke two bones in his right ankle on his Wolfe Tones debut last June.

He underwent surgery on his return home and was off crutches by the end of August.

"The operation was a success, it healed well. The specialist said it would be a six-month injury, so realistically by January/February I should be okay to play. But that will depend on the gym work I do," cautioned the Tubberclair clubman, who has been given the all-clear to resume jogging.



Proud

Connaughton, who won his All Star in 2008, believes that near-miss against Kerry shows there is a new generation of Westmeath footballers who "want to achieve and are proud to wear the jersey".

"The game against Kerry was the first time I sat watching a championship game in eight years," explained the Athlone IT student, who is in the fourth year of a business degree.

"I made my debut in 2004 and played every game up to (this year); I'm trying to get back at it now. This time last year I wasn't doing a lot of training, but now I'm doing a lot more because I have to work on it a lot more.

"It was a hard summer, sitting around with the foot up on a stool, watching swimming and the Olympics, rubbish like that!" he added.

"I was taking football for granted because I was playing non-stop, but during the summer I was watching club and county and you can't do a thing. It was an early indicator of what retirement will be like."

Something he doesn't want to embrace just yet.


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