Saturday 7 December 2019

Player Diary: My recovery after the operation is going well and I'll be back soon

Denis Buckley in action for Blackrock College during a Leinster Schools Senior Cup game against Monkstown in 2009 Picture: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
Denis Buckley in action for Blackrock College during a Leinster Schools Senior Cup game against Monkstown in 2009 Picture: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

Denis Buckley

It looks set to be another bruising encounter against Oyonnax at the Sportsground tomorrow, but we are determined to get the win and a chance to bring another European quarter-final to the Sportsground.

I won't be back in action until after the break, but I'm excited about how fast my rehab has taken shape since I injured my ankle against Brive in the Challenge Cup.

I saw a specialist after a scan showed up some damage but we weren't sure about surgery. We gave it ten days and I tried to run on it just after Christmas but it wasn't right. I cut my losses and got the surgery at the start of January. It's usually a 12-week injury but they have changed the recovery process and that's why I expect to be back soon.

I went home the night of the surgery. The surgeon told me to get out of the moon boot and try and walk without crutches. It was a bit sore that night but the following day I was walking around without any crutches.

It was tough at the start but after a day or two I was walking fine. Ever since then I have rehabbed it quite aggressively. It has gone really well so far.

The problem with how they used to do it was you would stay in the moon boot for two weeks and lose a lot of muscle in the calf and shin, and the ankle joint itself would seize up a little. Then you would spend more time trying to get all of that back.

Unusual After all of this I'm targeting the first game after the break in January to make my reappearance.

It was an unusual Christmas for me. I'm more used to games right throughout the festive season but it was nice to be able to catch up with family and friends a bit more instead. The injury also coincided with the QFA exams I am doing at the moment.

They are financial advisory exams, and my next one just happens to be tomorrow. It was one of the exams that I was the least prepared for so the injury may have been a blessing in disguise.

It's good to have something going in the background outside of rugby to distract you from the game. When you have two or three things on your plate and have to be efficient with your time, you are always in work mode and need to use every minute productively.

This time of the year is when the schools cup rugby begins to take centre stage and this week I reflected on my time with Blackrock College.

I started rugby with the Creggs U-8s and from the very first day I loved the game and stuck with it. I played with them up until U-12 and at U-13 I went up to boarding school in Blackrock College.

My dad, Maurice, went there and that was always the plan for me.

The rugby up there is probably just as intense as being a professional. Maybe not in the early years, but in Senior Cup you do three sessions a day. It's a pretty intense schedule but I was lucky enough to play in third year when we won the Junior Cup. I was only a sub for that. It's hard to make those teams.

But then in fourth year I was training with the senior squad and it took off from there.

It was the summer after second year when I started out with Connacht. We would be put up in Galway for eight weeks during the summer and do a full pre-season which replicated the senior side's programme.

I ended up being in the Senior Cup training squad when I was in fourth year. That was young, especially in Blackrock, because there were 200 pupils in each year. That was good experience and off the back of that I played with Connacht schools that year. I played for the Ireland schools the following Easter which was another great experience. Then in sixth year Leinster wanted me to play for them and I was obliged to at that level.

I played for Leinster U-19s and we also won the Senior Cup that year in Blackrock. There are a good few of the lads from my team that play around the country now. Jordi Murphy was our captain, Andrew Conway, Brendan Macken, Dave Heffernan, and one or two others were also on board.

Off the back of that and playing Leinster U-19s I got an academy contract with Connacht and the rest is history.

At the time in Leinster schools rugby might have been a bit bigger but now when you see the work that is going on in Connacht they have started to catch up.

Even with Creggs, the club is completely different to when I was coming through. They are doing a massive new development down there which is fantastic. It's huge, they are putting three new pitches on it and it's an incredible facility.

That is flowing into the school rugby in Roscommon and you can see that through the CBS. They are doing really well and getting to finals which is night and day from my teens. It's great to see that happening and I'm sure it will continue in that direction.

And this weekend Connacht have a huge game. If the lads win we get a home quarter-final and that's crucial for us. We would always have a little bit more confidence when we play at the Sportsground.

It would be great to be able to bring a quarter-final home. I would back us against anyone on the day. It would give us a great chance to get into a semi-final or even a final.

It's a great opportunity and after a tough game at Worcester Warriors last weekend, we won't take anything for granted against a typically big and physical Oyonnax.

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