Donnellan recovery taken in his stride
Galway hurler Cyril Donnellan is just weeks away from a return to inter-county hurling after changing the way he runs to overcome a persistent groin injury.
Donnellan, a key figure in Galway's 2012 Leinster championship success, missed the entire 2014 season because of the injury which required two operations early last year.
The problem, he conceded, arose because of "over load" prior to the 2013 championship. But his work over the last few months with Castlebar-based physiotherapist Martin McIntyre has fast-tracked his recovery and has involved re-aligning his running style.
Donnellan played through the pain barrier in the 2013 championship but realised after the All-Ireland quarter-final defeat to Clare that his body was "wrecked."
"When you are in the heat of the championship season it's too difficult to say stop," he recalled. "You just put everything else aside and try and get going. Just take pain-killers and injections, whatever you need to get to the next game or the next training session.
"By the time Galway were beaten in 2013 my body was wrecked and I knew when I left Thurles that day I had severe damage done to my body. It has taken more than 18 months to get right."
Donnellan admits he "learned the hard way" over how he allowed his initial problem to exacerbate. "We were taking on a heavy load of training in the late spring of 2013," he recalled. "Galway were after losing the All-Ireland the previous year and we were trying to get a head of steam at training.
"My own club was on the crest of a wave in that it was the first time we had reached a quarter-final in years and we were trying to get momentum on that.
"I was training every day, picked up a small groin strain, didn't think much of it and carried it for a few weeks.
"I was trying to get through the matches in the Leinster championship. Something as little as sleeping (was interrupted) when I was at the height of it. Twisting in bed at night it could wake you with darts of pain. It was difficult getting out of the car. Simple things like that."
McIntyre was one of Mayo's physios during James Horan's time and has been overseeing a correction in the way Donnellan runs.
"It is very difficult to try to change how you run since you were a teenager. Gradually you are doing different things almost unknown to yourself," said Donnellan who is targeting a mid-March return to competitive action.
•Cyril Donnellan will be speaking at an information evening hosted by Martin McIntyre's SISM Clinic in Castlebar on Thursday night next.