Monday 16 September 2019

Armstrong faces battle if he wants to wear Galway colours in 2018

Second coming has worked out well for Salthill man but back injury issues remain

Sean Armstrong ended a two-year retirement to return to Galway earlier this year. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Sean Armstrong ended a two-year retirement to return to Galway earlier this year. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Seán Armstrong faces an uncertain inter-county future as the condition of his back continues to concern him.

The Salthill-Knocknacarra man, who ended a two-year retirement to return to Galway earlier this year, is intent on being available to manager Kevin Walsh in 2018.

But the measures he needed to take just to get on the field last season creates an element of doubt as to whether his body can sustain another year.

Armstrong (right) made a big contribution and was surprisingly overlooked for an All-Star nomination as Galway reached the All-Ireland quarter-finals for the second successive year.

But he has revealed the lengths he had to go to just get himself right.

"Unfortunately, I got a couple of episodes this summer with my back. Before the Roscommon game (which he missed) I was crippled for three or four weeks and then after, we were beaten by Kerry, I went back to play club and was crippled again after a game.

"I was just getting injections and eating Difene to beat the band. It's no way to sustain a lifestyle never mind a career, so I'm going to go up to Eamon Falvey (Santry-based surgeon), look at his scans and try to come up with some sort of system or game-plan that might get me back playing.

"I really enjoyed last year, I'd love to go back and play but if I'm not able to train and compete at the level I need to then I'm only fooling myself."

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Armstrong's problems revolve around bulging discs.

"I think I have one severe one unfortunately. L3, there is a fine bulge in that one, then below it, L4 has a bit of a bulge on it. This summer, I would have spent a lot of time lying on a hard surface or on the physio bed getting injections, trying to straighten up getting out of bed in the morning to try limber up for training that evening.

"So, I want to be able to swing a golf club and hopefully be able to pick up a child in four or five years without my back giving away. And it's unfortunate because I really enjoyed this year, I think I can give it another little bit extra and go a little bit further obviously and try improve on my performances. But if my body won't allow me, my body won't allow me."

Armstrong believes there was a small bit of fear among Galway players of Kerry in the All-Ireland quarter-final that didn't help them.

"Kerry were only in third gear but I felt we were in second or third gear as well. I think we feared them a small bit. Personally, and a few of the older lads were trying to drive into them and say they're not to be feared, to drive into them for 70 minutes, not stand off them, give them too much credit. But I think we did that a small bit at the start.

"Again in the second half, we were just lacking that bit of belief. But Burkey (Ian Burke) had a great goal chance, (Damien) Comer had, I had a great goal chance. If one or two of them went in it would have changed the game instantly. And then we would have had Kerry come out of third or fourth gear.

"I really think we didn't do ourselves any justice against Kerry. I think we're way better than that, to be quite honest. A lot of the players would also feel the same way, that they didn't do themselves justice".

Armstrong feels Galway can take a lot of inspiration from neighbours Mayo who they have beaten in the last two seasons and make it to the last four next year.

"The older you get, the more you think, 'We should be out there'. If our lads develop the frame of mind of getting some sort of success, even getting to the last four would be another further step for Galway.

"We've been in the quarters the last two years in a row. To taste 70 minutes away from an All-Ireland final? Develop that mentality within the group.

"You'd have to take confidence from watching Mayo because we beat them the last two years in a row. If we can beat Mayo, why can't we get to the last four or get to August or September this year?

"Our real momentum-killer was losing to Roscommon. They thoroughly deserved to win on the day but that knocked our momentum off. We got a bit back against Donegal."

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