McGrath determined to play part for Corofin despite cruciate woe
The fear of not contributing to Corofin's biggest days drove Ciaran McGrath to decline a cruciate ligament operation in 2015, but after feeling the pinch again in this season's Connacht final win over Castlebar he is fighting hard to prove his fitness again.
McGrath ruptured his knee ligament in the first quarter of the 2015 All-Ireland club final, but still played the full game and helped the Galway club to their second national title.
Happily, the work he had put in recovering from a double leg break in 2013 meant he was able to avoid the operation.
After nearly three years unscathed, the old injury reared its head once more at an inopportune moment, but the former Galway defender is eager to play his part in Saturday's final against Nemo Rangers at Croke Park.
"I've had a few injuries over the past few years so I'm kinda used to it. It doesn't be too frustrating, but then on match days it gets frustrating.
"You just feel you are going to be back, it is only when the game comes close that you realise that you are not going to play a part. That is when it gets frustrating," said the 33-year-old garda.
"It was the first injury since. It was just unfortunate, I was going for a ball and got my leg caught in behind Neil Douglas's legs, he twisted one way and my knee went the other.
"If I was younger I probably would have got it operated on, but the problem is we were on the crest of a wave in 2015, I was in my 30s and you don't know how long it is going to last.
"You want to play every game, but you really want to play the important games.
"They are important; that is what it is all about really. In club football you don't get an opportunity to play too many big games because they are so far spread out, you enjoy playing as many as you can as long as you can."
It has been far from a smooth run into the All-Ireland final for Corofin, despite claiming their fifth Galway championship in a row last year with a win over Mountbellew-Moylough.
In the Galway final they were reduced to 14 players early on, they needed extra-time to get past St Brigid's and Castlebar in Connacht, while they played nearly all of their semi-final win over Moorefield a man down, although Martin Farragher's red was rescinded and he can play in the final.
McGrath watched the extra-time in the Connacht final, their All-Ireland quarter-final against Fulham Irish and the semi-final from the sidelines, but he is desperate to get back in the team with sweet St Patrick's Day memories still in his mind.
"We know that we are in a privileged position. No more than Nemo, there is tradition in this club. My age group were lucky enough to be at an age to see the first Corofin team to win an All-Ireland and how special it was.
"I was 13 or 14 at the time, the buzz that surrounds it the week before and the buzz that is around for the weeks after is just great. It is something that is very special.
"I would have watched Sarsfields (hurlers) in the mid-'90s on TV, you would have just known that there was something special about Patrick's Day, and something special about club hurling and football.
"I'm lucky to be part of it and there is a legacy there with Corofin. I'm lucky to be part of it somewhat for the last few years."