IT TAKES GREAT mental strength to come back from a cruciate injury but it takes a super human effort to come back in just eight months and play a starring role in your county’s championship season.
But that’s exactly what Limerick’s Seamus Hickey did this year, helping his side to the Munster final with victory over eventual runners-up Tipperary before narrowly losing to Kilkenny in the All-Ireland semi-final.
But what was behind his speedy recover?
“Just the time I spent in the gym and I the fact I had a super physio.
“The fact that I was able to get back as quick as I did gave me a boost psychologically and I was enjoying it a bit more. One fed into the other.
“Have you ever heard of Adrian Peterson; the running back with Minneosta Vikings in the NFL. He’s in the news for the wrong reasons at the moment.
“Well he tore his cruciate in November/December of the NFL season one year and he was back playing the following August when the season started again.
“He won the league MVP coming off a cruciate tear and it had never been done. That was a story where you knew that it could be done.”
“They are the kind of stories that everyone who goes through a serious injury wants to hear, they always look for some light at the end of the tunnel.
“That was my light, just to give me hope. That you can come back as strong, sometimes stronger.”
While disappointed with how the year ended for Limerick, Hickey thinks that his team-mates and management can be proud of 2014 as a whole.
“You have to be pragmatic at the end of the year and look at it as a whole for what it was. And what it was this year was us playing consistently well at a high level and being competitive with the best teams, especially against Tipp the first day we were coming off the back of a lot of criticism.
“It was a response that was followed up with performance. We played well enough in the Munster final without those mistakes that we made early in the game and late in the game, it really cost us.
“At the same time I would still consider it a year where we had a consistency we haven’t had in years. Where we were putting games back-to-back and teams were taking us very seriously as a result.”
As for that loss to Kilkenny in the driving rain in Croke Park, Hickey feels Limerick only needed one or two things to go their way for the result to be different.
“I fully expected Kilkenny to take us seriously in the semi-final and they very much did.
“As it turned out we lost the Kilkenny game the way we lost the Cork game and that was conceding goals. That was very disappointing. To have more scores at the end of a game and still lose is very disappointing and it’s something we will definitely zone in on next year.
“It’s disappointing when we have brought that level of consistency to our performance but it’s still very isolated incidents that were our own undoing in the games. We have no one to blame but ourselves. We still have a point to prove on.
And the young hurler can’t help but wonder what might have been had they reached the All-Ireland final.
“There is still that disappointment there when we saw what Tipperary and Kilkenny did in the final and knowing what we did against both.
“But I remember looking back on 2012 when we went out in the quarter-finals to Kilkenny, that night when we were talking about the game all of us were talking about next year and how we were looking forward to it.
“That will come again with this team as well. We’ll be looking forward to next year, maybe not now but there will come a time in the next few weeks when next season can’t come quick enough.”