Geaney close to Kerry return after horror run of injuries
He's on the way back again. Kerry's Paul Geaney hopes to be playing within the next month if all goes to plan. But when he runs through the injuries he has suffered in his still young career, he uses enough words like "vertebrae", "cyst" and "spinal cord" to ring more than a few alarm bells.
It sounds worse than it is, insists the Dingle man, but his 2015 season was essentially dogged by pain.
"I had a cyst in my back that I got removed on October 1. Then, six weeks later, I got the shoulder done," recalled Geaney as he explained the injuries that have kept him out of action for Kerry so far this year.
"The last back surgery I had was for broken vertebrae; they put in a screw and it caused arthritis.
"That just (let) two cysts grow inside the spinal cord which was giving me leg pain all last year so I just had to get the cysts removed.
"It's not majorly a back problem. It's just the cysts were causing pain all down the sciatic nerves and that sort of thing."
It seems surgical intervention is an accepted part of intercounty life now. In between trying to get on - and stay on - the Kerry team last year, Geaney was trying to self-diagnose his problem and solve it on the hoof.
"Initially, I thought it was supplements that I was taking - vitamins and stuff - so I stopped taking them and then it was 'it's not that, no'. Then I had to narrow it down. I was thinking it was (when I was) going to sleep or weights, so I stopped doing weights.
"Nothing was working that way. I started doing core, and core wasn't helping out. It was sore when I was going to the toilet so I said 'this isn't right at all'.
"It affected my fitness in the end because I wasn't able to give everything in training sessions. I wasn't able to move freely.
"I figured out what it was. I got an injection and it numbed it for about a month. Then it started coming back a small bit before the All-Ireland. We had a county final against Dr Crokes the week after and I just had to stop after that because it was fully back."
It doesn't sound like much fun but at least it gives him something to talk about in the pub in Dingle.
He works as a mentor with Sky Sports' 'Living for Sport' scheme but the summer will bring him back to Dingle and to the family business. The topic of conversation never moves too far.
"I love talking about football, I'd talk about it all day long. It's great meeting people coming in and listening to their opinion on what is happening and how bad Kerry are and this sort of stuff!" he laughed.
He'll be back in action soon but at 25, he's had just one clear run at an inter-county season. That came in 2014 when Kerry went all the way. Other than that, he's been dogged by different things, some of them related to his back.
Despite the setbacks, Geaney still believes he can earn his spot on the team when fit.
"You have to have that mindset, every guy is going to believe they are capable of making the team at their best so it is up to everyone to be at their best to get on the team," he said.
"I wouldn't expect to be starting if I wasn't at my best because I know the quality is there."
He won't travel with the squad this weekend but accepts Kerry "must win" in Newry.
There are mitigating circumstances surrounding Kerry's poor start to the League. They didn't return from a team holiday until January 10 which condensed preparation time.
Under Eamonn Fitzmaurice, Kerry have dug themselves out of bigger holes when it comes to avoiding relegation from he top flight but there's a urgency about this game. With Down also winless, he accepts the clash is a 'four-pointer'.
"It is a must-win because Down are down close to us in the League," he said. "It's nearly a four-pointer really. If we lose we are still on zero and, depending on other results, we could be on our own.
Meanwhile, Ballyboden St Enda's have appealed against the red card shown to Declan O'Mahony during their All-Ireland Club SFC semi-final victory over Clonmel Commericials.
The appeal will be heard tonight, with Ballyboden manager Andy McEntee claiming that O'Mahony was guilty of no more than a "yellow or black card offence".
As things stand, O'Mahony will miss the St Patrick's Day final against Castlebar Mitchels at Croke Park,