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Down star returns to championship action eight-and-a-half months after horror head injury

Caolan Mooney helped Rostrevor to an opening round win from midfield.

caolan-mooney Down footballer Caolan Mooney (file pic). Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

DOWN FOOTBALL STAR Caolan Mooney made a successful return to senior club championship action last night, eight-and-a-half months after a horror head injury sustained in an alleged assault over Christmas.

“8 1/2 months later back feeling proper competitive action again,” 27-year-old Mooney wrote on Twitter this morning, alongside a picture of himself in action last night.

“@RostrevorGAA holding on for the win. Gairiad Clarke shot stopper specialist.”

Mooney’s Rostrevor were 3-11 to 0-15 winners over RGU Downpatrick in their first round senior championship encounter, as he started in midfield and impressed throughout.

Mooney suffered a fractured skull in an alleged assault last December.

Shortly afterwards, two men were charged in relation to the incident which occurred in Merchant’s Quay area of Newry in the early hours of 30 December, and they are now due to stand trial.

Mooney’s brother Patrick was also injured in the incident, and suffered a broken nose.

A current Down footballer and former Aussie Rules star, Caolan spent some time in Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital after the incident — and has documented his road to recovery on Twitter since.

In July, he made his return to competitive action, playing the whole of Rostrevor’s challenge match draw with Mayobridge — and scoring two second-half points in doing so — before later facing Clonduff.

“He has been given the all clear,” club manager Pete McGrath told The Irish News at the time. “Obviously he wouldn’t be playing if he hadn’t been given the full approval of the medical people.

“Caolan played the full match and he showed no sign of being conscious of what had happened — only the player himself knows what he brings into a match psychologically but in the contact training we’ve done and in the two matches he has played in, he has shown no inhibitions at all.

“He’s just playing as he did prior to the incident that occurred. As far as I’m concerned he’s back, and he’s just like every other player.”

caolan-mooney-and-aidan-oshea Facing Aidan O'Shea in last year's All-Ireland qualifiers. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Mooney’s last showing in the Down colours came in a McKenna Cup match in Fermanagh the day before he sustained his injuries. 

A former minor star for the Mourne men, he spent three years on the books of AFL side Collingwood between 2012-14, before returning home to resume his inter-county career.

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Emma Duffy

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