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'I had to take three months of doing absolutely nothing which was horrendous'

Kildare’s Rachel Cribbin talks about the injury which kept her on the sidelines for five months.

Rachel Cribbin in action for Kildare during the 2016 All-Ireland intermediate final against Clare.
Rachel Cribbin in action for Kildare during the 2016 All-Ireland intermediate final against Clare.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

KILDARE’S RACHEL CRIBBIN is acutely aware of the challenge that awaits her side today.

Following unfortunate ends to their national league and Leinster championship campaigns, the Lillywhites are facing a tough assignment against Mayo in the All-Ireland qualifiers.

The Connacht side are well versed on how to navigate the waters at this stage of the All-Ireland senior championship, while for Kildare, they’re still learning to find their feet at the top level after winning the intermediate title last year.

Additionally, Kildare are working through that gradual process without some of their more seasoned campaigners.

While some have elected to step away from the county fold for 2017, All-Ireland intermediate winning captain Aisling Holton is among the more permanent losses after she announced her retirement in February.

Adjusting to the loss of a player of Holton’s calibre has added another layer of difficulty to the step-up, but Cribbin says they are starting to find their rhythm.

Speaking to The42 at the TG4 senior championship draw, she said:

“This year is really a rebuilding year but we didn’t have a great league campaign. We were disappointed with our performances in the Leinster championship, we were beaten at half-time against Westmeath.

“There is a transition (from intermediate to senior) and it’s going to take a while to get used to even the physicality of it. A lot of our girls are young and small so it’s going to take a while.”

Aisling Holton lifts the trophy Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“We played Laois in the League this year and we played them last year. We always would have been there or thereabouts with them, so we weren’t going in playing Dublin (to start).

Since the Leinster campaign has finished, everyone has been buzzing. It’s just a different atmosphere, everyone is just bouncing off each other.

“We’ve got a new management team in now as well, so we’ve got a lot more people involved and the player/manager relationship is a lot better with so many involved.”

On a personal level, Cribbin has also been battling back from injury, which has affected her preparation for the Mayo game.

The Balyna woman has been on the sidelines for five months with Osteitis pubis, an injury that can affect the groin and lower abdomen area.

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Cribbin, who is also a fitness instructor says she tried a few treatments to help with her recovery, and admitted that watching Kildare struggle through some of their games earlier this season was difficult.

“It’s an overload injury and I’m a fitness instructor, so between training and classes, it just built up.

I had to take three months of doing absolutely nothing which was horrendous. That didn’t work so I had to get an injection to slowly build it back up.

“I’m just doing change of direction now and I played 20 minutes of a game with the club. It was good, a bit sore after but at least I got through it and I’m ok, it didn’t set me back.

It was so tough to watch on, especially just how our league campaign went and everything.

“You just see girls so down and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Injuries such as the one Cribbin has been struck with are quite prevalent among GAA players.

Respected orthopaedic surgeon Patrick Carton of the Whitfield Clinic in Waterford, previously highlighted the alarming rate of GAA players seeking hip repair surgery.

During an interview with  Tipperary Mid-West Radio last year, Carton revealed that 75% of patients he works with come from GAA backgrounds, and said the average age for surgery has dropped from 31 to 26 years of age in recent times.

Cribbin, who has been named to start in Kildare’s full-back line for the crunch tie against Mayo this afternoon, advises that a proactive approach to pre-hab will help GAA players avoid problems further down the line.

“There needs to be a lot of pre-hab stuff done. Our coach does a lot of prep with us before training, so we’re upstairs foam rolling, (using) resistance bands and all that, because you really need to warm up your hips and glutes before training.

“I didn’t realise how important that was until this year.”

Details of the other pairings from the draw can be found here.

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