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Dublin: 18 °C Thursday 19 September, 2019
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'I felt everything and I just knew myself it was gone - it's just a pity it happened at this point'

Injury-stricken Ailbhe Davoren will be watching on as her Galway side face holders Dublin in the All-Ireland semi-final today.

“OH, I WILL of course,” Ailbhe Davoren smiles when she’s asked if she’ll be in Roscommon’s Dr Hyde Park later today as her Galway side face Dublin in the TG4 All-Ireland senior championship semi-final.

No hesitation. No question about it.

Dublin v Galway - Lidl Ladies Football National League Division 1 semi-final Galway star Ailbhe Davoran.

Of course, she could be excused for not making the journey. Two weeks ago she was struck down by the dreaded injury, one of the most prevalent in ladies football.

She was stretchered off in the 45th minute of the Tribeswomen’s All-Ireland quarter final against Galway, fearing the worst from the moment it happened.

“At the time I knew,” she told The42‘s Ladies Football Show this week. “I felt everything go and I just knew myself it was gone.

“I’ve no fear in watching it back anyway. I’d say just an awkward fall and just the knee went from under me. In fairness, I’ve been very lucky. I hadn’t been injured for 19 years so I have been lucky in that sense. It’s just a pity it happened at this point.”

On Monday then, it was all fully confirmed as the Moycullen star was diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Her older sister is a past victim, her other sister did her medial ligament before; it’s not unknown territory in the Davoren household.

Perhaps that’s why she’s as positive and upbeat as ever.

She knows that it’s just another obstacle, another hurdle that she’s well fit to clear.

She’s seen it first-hand and knows she can emulate the journey back.

Get the surgery done, follow the protocols, and get back as soon as possible.

Galway v Mayo - TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Football Senior Championship quarter-final In the midst of the madness. Source: Eóin Noonan/SPORTSFILE

“Not to panic,” she grins as she’s reminded of the nine-month recovery time frame. “Just do the best we can to get the best recovery.

“There’ll be plenty other things. I might get back into a bit more music — I play traditional music there — might get a bit of coaching in or whatever.

“I’ll set little goals after the surgery and try and get them done to get back.”

The more she talks, the more her positive mentality shines through. Even the day after she sustained the injury, her teammate and captain Tracey Leonard shared a picture on Twitter.

Lying in bed, brace on the knee. But the thumb up and the huge smile across her face says it all. A picture paints a thousand words.

It triggered plenty of heartwarming well wishes on social media but the support and help she’s received offline has been second to none too, Davoren adds.

“Ah yeah, aside from social media the girls have been great. (The support) around me has been amazing — friends and family. It just shows you how lucky I am. There’s lots of people in lots of trouble.

“I’m absolutely very grateful to anyone who gave me help and maybe a thank you to anyone who didn’t get a mention there. I really do appreciate it and please God it’ll be worth it in the end when I get back.”

As she said, it’s an awful pity it happened at this point of the year, as we well and truly hit the business end of proceedings. It’s Davoren’s second year on the senior panel and of late, she had well and truly found her feet and established herself as a regular starter.

Complimented for her stellar year in the maroon jersey, I add that it may be tough to have the curtain untimely drawn, against her powers, in the middle of a truly individually-pleasing campaign.

“I suppose it’s the team,” she responds. “If we wanted to play individually I’d be playing tennis or something!

“Ah no, the team have been outstanding this year and they’ve shown it in the performances we got. They’re just an amazing bunch of girls; they’re so supportive and have been so committed. They’re not going to leave any stone unturned now.

“We’re looking  forward to a big day out on Saturday. We’ll focus on the team at hand and hopefully we can get some silverware.

gtown Celebrating with Sinead Burke.

“We realise we’re coming up against the greatest now but we’re going to hopefully rise to the challenge.”

There’s no time for self pity or sympathy. No time to lick the wounds. Just get up and get on with it. That’s pretty much the attitude across the Galway team as a whole too.

Davoren has spoken in the past of the Connacht kingpins being sick of being the nearly team. So close but yet so far. Near miss after near miss.

“It’s certainly something we looked at, being the nearly team and maybe not getting past,” she adds, giving an example. “Watching Mayo get further than us last year after beating them in the Connacht final.

“All these things I suppose do drive you on. Every team is looking for something to drive you on, to get that edge.

“When it comes down to these games it’s the fine margins that are getting you over: looking for the perfection in the performance and being on the same page — which Galway definitely are but we are in no doubt denying the opposition we are facing.”

She feels that they’ve established themselves as a force to be reckoned with at the top table and no longer have a major point to prove. There is a line that still needs to be crossed.

“It’s just trying to get over the line on Saturday and hoping that you’ve done enough,” she notes, as they prepare to do battle with the Dubs, Mick Bohan’s reigning champions.

“We’ve an outstanding management (team). We’ve been with them for two years now which makes all the difference, when you get to know people on a personal basis.

“(Manager) Stephen (Glennon), he’s outstanding. He goes over and beyond to do all he needs to do and he has a super team behind him. They’re outstanding and extremely professional in the way they go about themselves.

“We’re pushing it to the men there in Galway in how professional we are, that’s another positive.”

And to conclude, the Sky Blue challenge.

galway Connacht champions: Galway.

The holders are bidding to reach their fifth All-Ireland final on the bounce while a Galway win would see them earn a crack at the Brendan Martin Cup for the first time since 2005.

“The ambiguity of it is frightening I’d say,” she concedes.

“Even more so for people not playing, when it’s not in your control. We’re matched but we’re not getting to the greatness they are. They’re still the top dogs.”

Still. But maybe not for much longer. All shall be revealed later today.


Source: The42 Podcasts/SoundCloud

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Emma Duffy

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