JUST four weeks ago Eamonn Callaghan crossed the Atlantic Ocean to the USA for an operation, that he hoped, would bring an end to a persistent groin injury. Dr William Myers, a Philadelphia based sports hernia specialist was the man responsible for the operation and now just four weeks after returning from America Callaghan is fit, ready and in contention for a place in the starting XV against Meath this Sunday, writes Ruth Chambers.
Initially it was thought that the Naas man would be out of action for six weeks but the procedure went extremely well and even before he returned home he knew that he would only have to sit out the quarter final clash with Offaly.
Last Thursday Callaghan took part in his first full training session since the operation and having missed the meeting with the Faithful, he is chomping at the bit to part of the action at headquarters on Sunday afternoon.
“Tonight (last Thursday) was my first night training. I was doing a lot of stuff on my own up to this but it’s my first night that I went back in doing drills and stuff.
“I first had the injury back in ‘09 and it was at me for the year, while last year I had no problem with it at all. It was more my foot that was at me last year. This year it flared up again in the league and has been at me ever since. It’s the exact same problem that I had in ‘09 and timing was bad just before championship!
“The doctor in America seems to be the only guy doing it. I’d heard about it a couple of months ago but I didn’t think I needed it really. After the club game when I tore a muscle in my stomach I went up to see Gerry McEntee and he had been over with Dr Myers and he told me that’s what I needed to do so I pretty much went straight over there,” Callaghan told the Leinster Leader this week.
Sitting out the Offaly game was torture for the Naas man. He loves being in the thick of the action but thankfully he is rearing to go again.
“I think the Offaly game was only the second championship game I’ve ever missed since I started. I’m not a great spectator at all. I was originally told, before I went over to have the operation, that I’d be out for six to seven weeks. The operation, thankfully, went well and I don’t think the surgery was as aggressive as it could have been. It has been three weeks today (last Thursday) and I’m delighted to be back training and I am probably ahead of schedule and I don’t want to get too carried away. I’ll be in contention for the Meath game. Whether I start is not my decision but I’d be delighted to be in the squad because a couple of weeks ago that didn’t look like a possibility,” admitted Callaghan.
Kildare had things all their own way against Offaly in the quarter final but the Naas man isn’t expecting more of the same on Sunday. Meath might be a team going through a tough time at the moment but Callaghan expects a backlash.
“The Meath game is going to be our toughest game of the year so far. There’s a motivation there for Meath to beat us because of the last couple of years. Every game against Meath is really tough and even in the league this year it wasn’t until two or three minutes to go that we got a point up. Even last year in the championship in Navan it was end to end stuff and was close until the last few minutes until we got a goal.
“What they’ve being going through will galvanise the team. A lot of the press are getting on their backs and when things are going against them they will come out fighting. I’m sure they got a lot of grief after the first game against Carlow but they came out the next day and played fantastic stuff, they blew them out of the water. It’s a massive game for both teams and having three games already will stand to Meath. They have three championship games under their belts now and we’ve only had the one,” said the Kildare forward.
Kildare have been knocking on the door for the past four years but for this team and their management knocking just isn’t good enough. They want silverware, they want a Leinster title but more importantly they want an All Ireland title.
“This is Kieran’s fifth year here and we have been developing but we still haven’t got anywhere, we still haven’t won anything. This is a new year and we have to try and build up again from the start if we want to be there or there abouts at the end of the year.
“We can only take each game as it comes though like the Offaly game, a game we were extremely motivated for and we will be for the Meath game too. We know that we can’t make any mistakes against Meath and if we do we’ll b punished straight away. We’re just going to have to be on top of our game really,” added Callaghan.
“You do need a bit of luck if you want to win an All Ireland but besides that, in the first couple of years we would have played Tyrone and Cork and we were an inexperienced team back then. We’ve built that experience up over the last couple of years. Last year against Dublin we were there or there abouts and against Donegal we were three points up in extra time and we should have killed off the game. That was our mistake. These things happen in football though and Donegal are a very good team and you’d hope that lads will gain something from those losses and we have,” he commented.
There is little doubt that Kildare, as a team, gain when Eamonn Callaghan is in the team. He’s one of the best footballers, not just in Kildare but in the country and it’s great to have him back.