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Man of Aran Seán Mulkerrin rising to latest challenge as he recovers from his ‘shattered’ kneecap

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Galway and Oileáin Árainn footballer Seán Mulkerrin pictured at the launch of AIB’s new series, The Drive, which explores the adversity faced by inter-county players in the modern game. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Galway and Oileáin Árainn footballer Seán Mulkerrin pictured at the launch of AIB’s new series, The Drive, which explores the adversity faced by inter-county players in the modern game. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Galway and Oileáin Árainn footballer Seán Mulkerrin pictured at the launch of AIB’s new series, The Drive, which explores the adversity faced by inter-county players in the modern game. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Seán Mulkerrin has been used to challenges during his football life. When you’ve grown up on an island off the west coast of Ireland, pursuing an elite Gaelic football career isn’t easy, given the logistics involved.

Galway is not a small county so getting to the various points of it at different times of the year has been that bit more difficult from his starting point on Inis Mór.

When he crumpled in a heap during an NUIG Sigerson Cup game against UUJ in January, breaking a kneecap in the process, the challenges were compounded significantly. It’s one thing to tear a cruciate ligament but a kneecap involves a much longer rehabilitation and being stationary for longer in the initial stages too.

The projection is for a return after nine to 10 months. that obviously puts this year’s inter-county season well out of reach and much, if not all, of the club season too. But in recent weeks he’s getting back doing some light jogging and being present around Galway training, handing out water, picking up cones, whatever it takes have an involvement.

“I stayed away for the first month or two from training because I wanted to go independently and not be relying on lifts or being a hindrance,” said Mulkerrin.

“Since I have been able to get back driving, I’ve been going to training. I live with one or two of the lads as well, so it has been great to go with them and get physio and help out as the case may be with cones or bottles or whatever. It’s a great time for me to get physio, check in with them and then have the craic with the lads before and after training.”

The kneecap was, to use his own word “shattered,” bone to bone or patella to patella as it was and he came off worse. “I was kind of planted and he (his opponent) just came at speed and hit the sweet spot or the bullseye.

“It shattered so it wasn’t pleasant now,” he recalled.

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The game was abandoned, NUIG were leading and awarded the points while Mulkerrin lay in agony as an ambulance took a long time to get to the Whitehall venue where the game was played. Such was the pain, he says he had no concept of the time involved.

For six to eight weeks, his leg was in a brace and a teaching placement had to be pushed back until after Easter. Mulkerrin had been a fixture on the squad since Pádraic Joyce’s arrival and had been bedding down in the full-back line. If there is a positive it’s that it is not considered a recurrent injury, he says.

Based on the mainland during college terms, he’s back on Inis Mór for the summer. So that’s a ferry to Rossaveal or Aer Arann flight to Inverin, a further 40 minutes to Galway city and another 15 minutes out to Galway GAA’s training base in Claregalway. But it’s a commute he has been well used to in the pursuit of his football career.

“Underage was more challenging because I was trying to juggle Leaving Cert and playing minor football, coming in and out, trying not to miss any classes so that’s why it was great to get the plane back over in the morning, the early plane. You are only missing 10 or 15 minutes of the first class. In terms of senior inter-county when you are on the mainland, you’re studying and you are closer to training and it’s not as challenging as you were if you were on Inis Mór full-time.”

For some reason Covid impacted more on Galway than other county teams and Mulkerrin doesn’t dispute that.

“Maybe not getting as much time as we would have liked to work on different scenarios,” he reflected. “If you go back to pre-Covid, we were doing very well in the league. I think we had only one loss to Kerry, one point in Tralee. It has been great to have the actual proper pre-season to work on different aspects and systems and structures that the management want to implement.”


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