Pictured are Kerry footballers Cáit Lynch and Gavin White at Inch Beach in West Kerry for the launch of the Lidl Comórtas Peile Páidí Ó Sé 2023. Killian Burns
gavin white

Kerry All-Ireland winner hoping for league return after injury - but without 'father figure'

Gavin White is on the comeback trail from a knee setback.

WHEN 2022 ALL-IRELAND and Division 1 champions Kerry take to the field for their league opener in Donegal on Sunday, they’ll be without a host of big names.

Jack O’Connor is down several bodies, with a lengthy injury list and others, including the Clifford brothers, granted leaves of absence after arduous club campaigns.

David Moran’s is permanent, the long-serving midfielder announcing his inter-county retirement on Monday.

Gavin White is among the injured contingent, having been out of action since last July’s All-Ireland final success against Galway with a knee setback.

After limping out of the semi-final victory over Dublin, White won his fitness race and went on to play the full game against the Tribe.

Speaking at the launch of Comórtas Peile Páidi Ó Sé 2023 yesterday, he offered an update on his progress: “I haven’t kicked a ball since the Galway game.

“From last week, I started doing a small bit of running. It’s difficult to say a timeline because I’ve been out for so long and I don’t know how the body is going to react. Just taking it week by week, building up my load. Please God I’ll see some league action. If not, that’s the way it is. The most important thing is to get the knee right, maybe be ready for the latter stages, or start of the championship.”

“I did a substantial amount of damage to my cartilage,” the Dr Crokes clubman, who turns 26 this week, added. “It was an unusual injury, it didn’t just happen in one go in the Dublin game. It probably came over a period of time.

“It just was the last tear in the cartilage, there was a substantial amount of cartilage ripped off really. I had to get a micro-fracture operation done on that to get some sort of cartilage back in it. It’s a funny enough injury, it’s one I want to get right now.”

He went under the knife three weeks after the final, and was on crutches for six weeks.

Over five months later, it’s the longest break White has experienced in his colourful career thus far, though is hoping it will be behind him sooner rather than later.

gavin-white-david-moran-and-peter-crowley-with-kevin-feely White and Moran in action in 2018. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

White also paid tribute to team-mate Moran after the three-time All-Ireland winner brought the curtain down on a glittering 14-year journey with the Kingdom.

“Look, I can’t say anything but good things about the man. A real leader on and off the pitch. From a team point of view, he was absolutely extraordinary in everything he did. From the public, he’s obviously known for lording kickouts and so on and so forth, but inside in the dressing room, he was just so much more.

“A real leader, really wanted to get Kerry over the line. I’m really, really glad I got an opportunity to play with him and obviously win the All-Ireland with him last year. From my own personal point of view, he was kind of like a father figure to me. When I first came in with Kerry, he was one of the first players that would have come up to me and welcomed me into the squad. He really took me under his wing, which I’m forever grateful for. I’m sad to see him go, but at the same time, I’m delighted I got to play minutes with him. I could sit here all day talking him up, a real gent.

“He’ll be sorely missed. That’s life, I suppose. He has a young child now at the moment, and he has another one on the way very, very shortly, and obviously work commitments and that… look, I suppose he’s happy with his lot. He won the All-Ireland last year with Sam Maguire in his right hand and his son in his left hand, a fitting ending for his career.”

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