'They opened me up again and my bowel was perforated. During that surgery, my lung collapsed'

Carlow’s scoring star Paul Broderick has had enough injury travails to appreciate Sunday’s Leinster semi-final.

Paul Broderick hit 0-11 during Carlow's victory over Kildare.
Paul Broderick hit 0-11 during Carlow's victory over Kildare.
Image: Ken Sutton/INPHO

HE’S LIT UP the Leinster championship with his dazzling scoring feats and years on the road with Carlow prompt Paul Broderick to appreciate a season like this.

The 31-year-old has chalked up 1-19 as Carlow have swept into the Leinster semi-finals but it’s not just waves of defeats that he has had to face.

A teacher in Heywood Community School in Laois, Broderick sketches out the injury travails he has he endured.

“It’s nearly like a running joke among the boys in the dressing room because, of Turlo’s first two years, I probably played two-three games.

“But I hung in with the squad. I liked what was going on. It was good craic and I knew, for one of those years, I wasn’t going to be there with club at all. So I was going in and out to training.

“I was recalling to Steven (Poacher) a couple of weeks ago, he was laughing at me, but I’ve had ten surgeries related to football since I’ve been 18.”

He reflects on the relatively straightforward business of repairing his knee cartilage and a few ankle operations, necessitated by knocks picked up in a pair of different league games against Antrim and originally when playing football in NUI Galway under Salthill’s All-Ireland club winning manager Eoin O’Donnellan.

Paul Broderick scores a goal Paul Broderick fires home a goal for Carlow against Louth. Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

But gravest setback he suffered came when he was a teenager.

“The worst was the spleen, without a doubt. It was a friendly game when I was 18, a couple of weeks out from my Leaving Cert. They rang me because they’d only 15, I said I wasn’t going because I was studying, but anyway I went out, came on at half-time.

“Five minutes later, an innocuous type of elbow and I was down on the ground, winded. They took me off and I went into the dressing-room and I remember our club chairman at the time, Davy Power, was standing over me. And a good friend of mine, Shane O’Neill, was standing over me.

“And Shane is an occupational therapist, a health background, and he said ‘You need to get this man to a doctor.’ I went to a doctor and he said to me ‘You’re not co-operating’ – but it was literally I couldn’t co-operate. He was like ‘Move left’ and I couldn’t move left or whatever.

“So they sent me to Kilkenny and you can imagine, a Sunday when you’re 18 and I wouldn’t have been the most academic, so I was happy enough with getting the Monday off, they said we’ll keep you in.

“I was in the X-ray room and I collapsed and they said ‘Ah yeah, best keep you in’. It was four o’clock in the morning that Sunday, I went for surgery. And they weren’t three separate injuries.

“So I went for surgery with the spleen. I was a week not getting any better, so they opened me up again and figured that my bowel was perforated and then during that surgery my lung collapsed.”

“I ended up missing the Leaving Cert. But as it turned out, I wouldn’t be the most academic but the next year I went to a school and I’d no real friends there, repeating, so I knuckled down and it was a better Leaving Cert than I ever would have done.”

Paul Broderick and Ciaran Kilkenny Carlow's Paul Broderick goes up against Dublin's Ciaran Kilkenny last summer. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The toll of the injuries severely tested the Tinryland man’s enthusiasm to keep playing and maintain the commitment required. His family always provided a sanctuary and a progressive summer like 2018 reminds him of the support he has received from those still cheering him on and those who have sadly departed.

“My sister hasn’t missed a game, my dad hasn’t missed a game, I’d say throughout (my) life. My grandmother, my aunt and my mother, who’ve all passed away in the last five years, they were huge (influences).

“My aunt, I was going to say she’d kill me for saying it but sure she can’t get a swipe at me now! I’d say she was sent off as many times as I was! There was a passion there.

“I was only texting a daughter of hers, my first cousin who’s in Australia, and she texted me after the (Kildare) match. The family are all like that as in they’re mad into it.

“She just said ‘Could you imagine the two of them on the line, the stuff they would have been shouting…’

“I’m very lucky in that the support has always been there and the encouragement. But yet at the same time I never would have felt the pressure; if I wanted to give it up I would have been allowed.”

Broderick’s capacity to land placed balls has been a major asset in enabling Carlow’s rise.

Paul Broderick scores a point from a free Paul Broderick lands a free for Carlow against Meath. Source: Gerry McManus/INPHO

“It’s not that I do less (practice) now, but do it better. So Diarmuid ‘Panda’ Walsh, as he’s better know, would be a clubmate of mine, and there’s a bit of geek in him. He would just monitor whatever we score and miss, and Turlough had a routine as well, and it never involves kicking more than 30 balls at a time.

“But it’s nice to gauge, well there is where I can kick from, that’s how many I got, and here’s what I need to work on. Whereas before I was just going out and kicking balls.”

There have been difficult days in a Carlow jersey.

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The final score A tough day at the office for Carlow against Meath in 2014. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“We’ve lost to a couple of club teams, in challenge games, playing club teams preparing for league or championship. We took a big loss to Kilmacud one time. The lads will tell you, St Brigid’s in Roscommon

“In terms of games that would go recorded, you’re looking at Meath – (who scored 7-13). That’s only four years ago. And like, that was probably one of those times, it was very, very low.

“But at the time, it’s mad. It didn’t even warrant that much. If we took that sort of beating to Laois the next day, there’d be a lot about it.

“At the time it was almost like ‘Ah well, that’s Carlow’.”

They’ve penned a new script and are a game away from a landmark Leinster final appearance after a 74-year absence. The presence of Laois in the opposition corner enhances the occasion.

Paul Broderick with Stephen Attride Paul Broderick and Laois player Stepehn Attride during the Division 4 league final. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

“There is good banter, both teams want to win. It’s going to be hell for leather. Graiguecullen were one of the successful clubs in Carlow, and I don’t know at what point in history it changed.

“I get my oil over the bridge, so there is a huge crossover. From Carlow town, my house, I could be what in what is considered county Laois in five minutes.

“Look, I’ll go for as long as I can feel I still add.The injuries I’ve come from, I want to go as long as I can, regardless of what’s going on.

“For Carlow, who knows? We’re playing a team next, we’ve lost twice too, but if someone is beating you, you want to prove you can overturn it, and I genuinely don’t think too much past Sunday.”

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‘They want big days in Croke Park. They want TV audiences. I don’t think people are listening anyway to grassroots.’

Starting out in 2005, tough days in a Carlow jersey, Laois family links and the Leinster final dream

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Fintan O'Toole

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