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Dublin: 18 °C Wednesday 5 August, 2020

Playing in a Connacht final 10 days after appendix surgery and swapping New York for Corofin

Michael Lundy and Corofin are chasing their second All-Ireland club football title since 2015.

WHEN MICHAEL LUNDY took his place on the Corofin half-forward line at the start of the Connacht club football final last December, curiosity got the better of his man-marker Paddy Durcan.

“How’s the appendix?”

Lundy had undergone an operation to remove his burst appendix just 10 days earlier and made a remarkable recovery to start in the provincial decider against Castlebar Mitchels.

Paddy Durkan and Micheal Lundy Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“He must have got wind of it because he said it to me,” says Lundy. “I don’t think he believed it, though.

“I just said, ‘It’s fine.’ But I don’t know if he was being sincere or was he trying to find out. So I just said it was grand and that was the end of it. No belts in it thankfully, and I came out of it alive with a good win.”

Playing so soon after surgery presented obvious health risks for Lundy, but he was prepared to put his body on the line for his club as they chased an eighth Connacht crown.

“Then they were telling me it was only keyhole (surgery). I wouldn’t be one that would have had any operations ever, so I didn’t even have a clue what that meant either.

“I asked in 10 or 11 days’ time is there a chance of me playing, and he said, ‘I wouldn’t rule it out, it’s not impossible, people have made returns’. So I was thinking that was a good thing.

“Once I came out of hospital, it was quite sore, it was bruised and tender at the time and there were stitches in there. It was a Thursday morning I came out and I literally sat on the couch for a week. I did some slight walking around, but I didn’t push it because I didn’t want to aggravate it.

“The doctor said the best thing I could do was to rest up for as long as you can. Then seven days later, on the following Thursday, I went for a run and got on the bike to see how I was.

AIB GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Club Championship Semi-Finals Media Day Michael Lundy was speaking at the AIB GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Club Championship Semi-Finals Media Day Source: Sam Barnes/SPORTSFILE

“The Friday was the last training before the Connacht final and I did a bit there. I went to the physio earlier on in the week and he was saying, ‘No’. But he was probably thinking of his own back, he wanted to cover himself, which was fair enough.

“I suppose he was a bit worried for me, but I told him the doctor said there’s a possibility. He said to see how it goes because there was a bit of swelling.

“Then on the Friday it was still a bit sore but he said to go for a run. Kevin (O’Brien) said I’d have to do a small bit of the drills because he was conscious that if I couldn’t do them on Friday then I probably wouldn’t be able to perform on Sunday. I did them and training went alright.”

After a late fitness test the morning of the game, Lundy was given the all-clear to start. He lasted 62 minutes and bagged a goal as Corofin won the title after extra-time.

“He tested me again in the warm-up on the Sunday before the game,” he explains. “I got in and just got physical because I wanted to see how it would react.

“I wasn’t hiding away from it because if it was going to be sore there was no point in me playing because I’d only be harming the team’s chances. I felt grand, and it worked out.

“It worked out well with the Connacht title, it was a good outcome that I got to play.”

Ciaran McGrath and Micheal Lundy lift the trophy Source: James Crombie/INPHO

After starring in Corofin’s All-Ireland triumph of 2015, Lundy spent the majority of 2016 in New York and missed out on Galway’s Connacht title triumph that summer.

“It was brilliant, it was great,” he says of his time in the Big Apple.

“It was a different lifestyle for 10 months. It was good, something different, something I’ve always wanted to do. I love travelling anyway. I got to make new friends out there and it was a different life culture and a lot of learning too for a lad to go away from home for a year.

“I was living in Queens and working in construction for an Irish man over there. He’s involved in the Donegal football club over there. Keelan McLaughlin. I played a bit of club football for the summer and he gave me work, I was lucky enough there.

“I was working close enough to where I was living so it was ideal. You weren’t travelling on the subway for an hour every day. It was only 15 minutes to and from so you still had all the evenings to yourself. It was a good set-up.”

He was approached to line out for the New York footballers but that would have meant transferring away from Corofin, rather than playing with the Donegal club on a sanction for the summer.

Michael Lundy Source: James Crombie/INPHO

In the end he returned home to attend his grandmother’s funeral in early October 2016. As he waited for his sister’s wedding a couple of weeks later, he got back involved with Corofin.

Despite missing the entire season, he managed to start in their Galway SFC final win over Salthill-Knocknacarra later that month.

“When I came home I started training and was just home initially for the funeral. I had intentions of going back and had still all my stuff left over there.

“I started training and then there was a county semi-final coming up and I asked Kevin could I get involved because I was still eligible to play.

“He was like, ‘Yeah.’ So I came on in (the semi-final). The county final was the weekend of my sister’s wedding which was in Rome so I had to leave that wedding early to come home to play in the final.

“I was always coming home (from Rome for the final) anyway, but I was only a sub and it happened that Gary Sice got injured during the week so Kevin said I was starting. I was coming home anyway, but I got the first plane I could then and luckily enough we won that.

“There was a run in Connacht so I just decided I was going to stay at home. Once we beat Castlebar I went over and just got the rest of my stuff from New York and just got rid of the room over there, stayed at home, and here I am still.”

Two Connacht titles later, Lundy and Corofin face Moorefield in the All-Ireland semi-final on Sunday with the dream of repeating their St Patrick’s Day heroics of three years ago still alive.

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Kevin O'Brien

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