Kelly: Fellaini surgeon saved my career after I was told it was all over
Sligo's David Kelly has revealed that he was almost forced to quit Gaelic football last year at the age of 25 because of a serious ankle injury.
Kelly, now 26, missed most of last year's campaign after undergoing surgery to repair two tendons in his right ankle that had been troubling him for two years.
He got back playing with Tubbercurry and finished the club season as player of the year, a testament to his perseverance and the skill of a London surgeon, Mr James Caldwell, who was one of the few to give him hope.
"Some surgeons were telling me I wouldn't play again," he recalled of his initial consultation process. "I was on to surgeons in America, Australia, Germany, London. I was chatting to one guy in America and he told me 'oh we can do the surgery, but you wouldn't be playing football or any other sport again'.
"But I went to this guy in London who has worked with (Manchester United's) Marouane Fellaini -- he had something similar. He inspired confidence straight away. They took tendon from my hamstring and grafted it onto my ankle. Much like a cruciate, but of the ankle.
"It was nine months but I got back at the end of June (he came on as a substitute in the qualifiers against Derry) and I played the whole club championship and got through it no problem. Hopefully it will continue."
Kelly said he was patient and wasn't bounced into playing too quickly.
"From being told you wouldn't play again, you're kind of saying 'okay there's a chance here'. I was smart and I didn't train every day."
Kelly, a member of the Football Review Committee, acknowledged that the season was most disappointing for Sligo but defended manager Kevin Walsh.
"The criticism of Kevin was out of order but probably every manager gets that now, they're under such pressure. It was a disappointing year and he knew himself he was under pressure. We can only try to turn that criticism into praise," he said.
Kelly said he would have no problem playing a team from Leinster or Ulster in a Connacht championship.
"If there's a Connacht title at stake, I'd play anyone. If they bring anyone in, I don't mind," he said.
He is satisfied with the body of work he and his colleagues got through on this particular aspect of the FRC review, saying: "I consulted over 30 players, from so-called less successful counties, and fixtures was the main point that everyone brought up.
"This is the best way to sort out the structure that we could come up with. It's not set in stone, it's there for people to talk about, and players will be happy with it."