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'I have nothing to say to anyone, I'm just gutted... I'll never forget the pain'

A season-ending ‘freak’ injury comes as another cruel blow for Kilkenny star Katie Power.

THE PAIN AND disappointment etched across Katie Power’s face says it all.

It’s rotten luck, there’s no doubt about that. A freak injury has ruled her out of the 2020 All-Ireland senior camogie championship, not long after a separate lengthy layoff which included several surgeries on a badly broken and seriously dislocated finger.

ganzee-gaa-official-lifestyle-collection Katie Power launching the Ganzee GAA Official Lifestyle Collection. Source: David Fitzgerald/SPORTSFILE

Back to her brilliant best and flying it in inter-county training after returning to the club scene with her beloved Piltown, Power was very recently struck down once again. A broken kneecap was the devastating diagnosis this time.

“It’s a huge blow,” as Cats manager Brian Dowling said this morning, revealing the injury news. “The effort she puts into it, it’s absolutely devastating for her.”

Putting on a brave face and talking to the media shortly after was surely the last thing the star forward wanted to do. But refusing to feel sorry for herself, she duly obliged.

“It’s fairly disappointing now, still fairly raw as well 10 days or so on,” Power said, launching a partnership between the GAA and The Marketing Hub.

“I was literally just back from the finger, I was back six or eight weeks. I got back before scheduled and got two games at the end of club season and I was back in obviously with the county.

“Six days then before championship, the Sunday before the Waterford game, we were just playing a training match and I broke my kneecap. That ended my season before it even started really with Kilkenny.

It was, and it still is, extremely disappointing. It will probably take me a while to get over this one I’d say. I’m just trying to keep the head up. I have nothing to say to anyone at the moment because obviously it’s just upsetting and very disappointing, but time will help, I suppose, and help me get over this one.”

It’s not the first time Power has been dealt this card. Six or seven years back, she broke her other kneecap after a slap of a hurl. But this time, it was an innocuous incident during a training game.

A “freak accident,” as Power says herself. No tackle, no collision, no slap, no hurl, no tussle. And it’s an injury that’s left many puzzled, given the circumstances in how it was sustained.

“I was chasing down a girl, I was right behind her,” she recalls. “I could have hooked her and she obviously seen me so she went to change direction and I went to go with her.

I literally just heard something, I didn’t know what it was in the moment. You’d hear people saying when they do their cruciate, they hear a pop. It wasn’t that but I’ll just never forget, I heard something and… I’ll just never forget pain.

“I just went straight down. It was literally me just trying to change direction, I was going as fast paced as you could. The doctor just doesn’t understand, he said he never seen this happen.

“It just couldn’t be worse luck, it was just unlucky — that’s probably the only way to describe it really. To be honest I’m just gutted over it.”

It’s nearly cruel at this point to ask her about the comeback trail, with doctor’s orders at the moment to keep the knee elevated and straight to help with swelling and soreness.

But in typical Power fashion — she works in the fitness industry in TJ Reid’s gym — the wheels are already in motion to some extent, though rehab is tucked away in the back of her mind.

Scans were conducted 24 hours after the damage was done, with the next steps now being considered.

“There was obviously an awful lot of swelling there so he’s hoping I actually don’t need surgery with this one. I did with the other one.

“I’m still looking at four, five, six months out. I’ll know more now when I get the second scan at the end of this week but we’re hopeful that I won’t need surgery because it’s just a straight fracture.

“At least that might be something but it’s still long-term enough, I suppose. I’ll try take small positives if I can.”

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Not needing to go under the knife would certainly be one.

While Power is still well aware of the tough road that lies ahead regardless, the 2016 All-Ireland champion’s positive attitude shines through as she talks about staying involved with her side and attending training week on week. 

Talking about the “top-class” set-up this year under former Kilkenny hurler Dowling with Tommy Shefflin and Philly Larkin both involved, Power’s mind drifts to greener pastures for herself next year too. Although couch-bound, she’s raring to get going again.

katie-power-dejected-at-the-final-whistle Power after Kilkenny's third All-Ireland final defeat in-a-row last September. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

But for now, she’ll watch on. Behind her team-mates each and every step of the way.

“Just because I’m injured now,” she nods, a slight smile breaking through. “I’m not gonna say, ‘Ah, d’you know what, why would I bother going? It’s just going to upset me.’ But I’m only going to be around if I can be a positive influence around the group.

Even Saturday, I refused to be negative. I refused to feel sorry for myself for the two hours I was around the girls, because you know what? Those games now, it’s not about me, it’s not about feeling sorry for me, it’s about them trying to perform and trying to win these games.

Delighted to be there, though it wasn’t easy with a devastating injury so raw, Power was an interested spectator in the stand at Walsh Park as the curtain came up on the 2020 All-Ireland senior championship last weekend.

While Kilkenny opened their O’Duffy Cup bid with a win over Waterford, the 29-year-old was pleased to see inter-county action resume amid waves of uncertainty through the Covid-19 pandemic and heightened restrictions.

“I was like, ‘D’you know what, it’s great to be here.’ You’d be nearly in tears watching the run out to play and warming up and stuff but it was great to be out. It’s going to be a long enough winter without anything going ahead.

“Look, I can see the two sides to it. There’s girls on our team and many other teams that are teachers etc and they’re going in to teach kids the day after day they play a game or training or whatever. But I think as a country, we need something to look forward to.

“Even the Kilkenny lads’ matches, Munster championship is on Sunday; it’s something for us to watch, it’s something for us to talk about instead of talking about the doom and gloom and everything else that’s going on at the moment. 

As a sports person, I was delighted it was going ahead because you’re looking forward to playing and that’s why you train the whole time and your competitive nature, you want to be out playing, but as a spectator now for the rest of the season, I’m still glad it’s going ahead.

“As I said, it’s going to be a long enough winter without anything else. At least this will be a focal point for the positive, rather than the negatives at the moment.”

And through this injury, just like her last “mentally tough” blow with the finger, that’s exactly what Power will be doing: focusing on the positives.

Day by day, she’ll keep moving onwards and upwards, and undoubtedly, come back even stronger than before.

“This year has been very unlucky,” she concludes. “Look, I don’t want to dwell on it too much. The last week or 10 days, obviously people are talking to you about it and stuff.

“I’m trying not to think negatively and think, ‘Poor me and poor this.’ Look, it will hopefully come good in a couple of months. Three, four, or five months hopefully I won’t be too far away from coming back again.”

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Emma Duffy

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