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21 months later: Ambition still burning in Mike Sherry after shoulder nightmare

For a long time, a comeback looked doubtful for Mike Sherry, but he made an emotional return to the field of play last month.

AFTER THREE SURGERIES and almost two full years out of the game, Mike Sherry is a changed man. Coming face to face with career ending injury will do that to a player.

The Munster hooker has been through an incredibly tough cycle of injury-to-rehab-to-surgery, and back again, before he was finally able to lace up his boots again for last month’s friendly against Grenoble.

Mike Sherry Source: James Crombie/INPHO

As comebacks go, he couldn’t have asked for a better re-introduction.

“I nailed the first two line-outs and got a try after two minutes,” Sherry says with a broad self-effacing smile after training in UL yesterday.

“I hadn’t been blowing hard yet, but after that was a struggle. I couldn’t move the next day.

“It was an emotional day actually. Pre-season games you don’t usually tend to get emotional, but I thought I’d never play again so I was emotional on the pitch.”

For the previous 21 months, Sherry had been watching Munster alongside his father in the stands. But on that day, he was able to emerge from the successful early rumble over the try-line and look up to find his family joining the applause.

Now 27, Sherry was literally counting the days until he could experience something like that again. However, some days the possibility of returning from the shoulder surgeries that followed his November 2013 ACL rupture just didn’t feel real.

“620-odd days. I calculated it there when I was bored one day. Long road, tough road. It’s great to be back.

“I never thought (about throwing in the towel), but I thought I would lose the rehab battle many times. There were stages when it just wasn’t responding. It didn’t feel anything like what it should. There were definitely times when I thought, ‘it’s not going to get where it needs to be’.

“It’s still a daily struggle. It’s not going to feel like a normal shoulder ever again, but it’s manageable. The S&C staff, PJ Wilson in particular, has been incredible with me. He’s modified my training so that I get the correct amount of training so I get the correct amount of weightlifting done that doesn’t aggravate me so I can keep on size and strength.”

The acceptance that comes through in a matter-of-fact ‘it’s not going to feel like a normal shoulder’ statement is part of Sherry now. He’s been through the hardest yards, seen his rehab partner Damian Varley claimed by retirement and now he’s ready to battle on.

The early portion of pre-season would have been the ultimate frustration for a hooker. The single-cap Ireland international found himself having to get to grips with a skill that had become second nature, throwing.

“I couldn’t lift 2kg over my head let alone throw a ball.

Mike Sherry and Tommaso Iannone Sherry in action during the season-opener against Treviso. He played 80 minutes. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“I’ve done a lot of work with Fla (Jerry Flannery). The first two months of this pre-season I was wobbly and I was thinking: ‘Jesus, will this come back ever?’ But I think it has. It still has a way to go, but I’m happy with where it is.”

That sums it all up for the Limerick man: he’s content to be on the right track. His time staring at four gym walls during rehab have hardened him against frustration and underlined his desire to build on his single international cap.

“Being back involved now: I just don’t complain, well I try not to complain and be negative. If you’ve a long day, it’s nothing compared to training away in the gym on your own and getting no results. You can’t compare how good a feeling it is to be back in among the squad, playing, travelling at the weekend, doing camps… it’s just incomparable.

“Still very ambitious, still want to be involved with Ireland. Duncan Casey took his chance while I was away and for all intents and purposes he’s number one in Munster at the minute.

“I definitely want to get back in there. I definitely want to get back in the Ireland squad – I feel I’ve been up there quite a lot but haven’t got a lot of game time. I want to get back up there and push on.”

Listen to Live95 here, and follow them on Twitter @LimLive95FM

Originally published at 11.37am

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Sean Farrell

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