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Lacey eager to convince McGuinness he's ready for Red Hands


Andy Moran, Mayo.  Picture: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile.

Andy Moran, Mayo. Picture: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile.

Andy Moran, Mayo. Picture: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile.

HE'S done all the rehab, he's made it back onto the pitch despite the occasional hitch, and now the ball is firmly in the court of Jim McGuinness and his management team.

According to Karl Lacey, he's ready to start this Sunday's Ulster SFC quarter-final between Donegal and Tyrone, the most eagerly awaited heavyweight collision of early summer 2013.

The reigning Footballer of the Year hasn't played one minute of competitive football with Donegal this year but, after a painstaking recovery from hip surgery performed in the Sports Surgery Clinic, Santry, before Christmas, he's ready for road.

Ballybofey this Sunday was always going to be his comeback D-Day.

"I probably wouldn't be where I was last year – but I'm happy with where I'm at," said Lacey, speaking at yesterday's Croke Park launch of Ulster Bank's nationwide search to find the best 'GAA Home' in Ireland.

"It took a wee bit longer than I thought, but I have plenty of cardio sessions under my belt. I suppose I ran out of time a little bit to build the match fitness, only having three games (two senior county challenges and a club game with Four Masters).

"I was hoping to have a few more league games under my belt, before playing Tyrone, but that wasn't the case.

"I'll give the last training session everything I've got and then Jim (McGuinness) and Rory (Gallagher) will decide whether I'm sharp enough – to play the full game, half a game, 10 minutes. It will be their shout."



His comeback was delayed by a couple of setbacks, including a calf injury, but he has been back in full training for the last four or five weeks and the hip – he happily declares – is "feeling good".

Lacey's injury woes stemmed from a combination of wear-and-tear and a crazily compressed club championship campaign last autumn, entailing six games in 22 days. Something had to give; it happened to be a certain Footballer of the Year's hip.

"I've been very lucky with injury, never had a serious injury, only a couple of wee hamstrings," he explained.

"With the good medical team around me, that kept my head in the right place and I'm starting to feel good as well.

"I see Andy Moran came back at the weekend (for Mayo) and that lifted me even more, to see that you can overcome these injuries, get back to the playing field. And I'm happy to do the same."

Was he a 'patient' patient? "I wouldn't say that now," he demurred.

"All the rehab was new to me and it was a lonely place to be – when you're on your side doing stretching, or sitting on a sliotar, or heading to the pool, while the rest of the boys are out playing.

"You've just got to be patient, believe you will overcome it. And thankfully I've been back on the pitch these past few weeks. It's great to be back out with the lads, and it will be even better to be back out on the pitch with them on Sunday."