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Thursday 24 August 2017

David Treacy's luck is turning for the better

Lester Ryan, Kilkenny, in action against David Treacy, Dublin
Lester Ryan, Kilkenny, in action against David Treacy, Dublin

"THEY were talking about Michael Rice being unlucky," said Anthony Daly in an interview with this newspaper last summer, prior to Dublin's trip to Wexford in the Leinster SHC.

"But who has met more hardship than David Treacy over the years?"

The 'over the years' part of that sentence might infer that Treacy had embraced the bus pass seasons of his hurling existence, though he was just 24 at the time.

Such was the wretched litany of injury which had disfigured his Dublin career until then, it felt almost as though Treacy had endured three careers worth of ailments.

Which is why prudent optimism, rather than surprise or outright glee, was the prevailing reaction to Treacy's performance in Nowlan Park a couple of Sundays ago.

"Outside of ourselves in Dublin and maybe some other students of the game who watch it closely," says former selector and Daly's trusted lieutenant, Richie Stakelum. "David Treacy is not someone people would rave about.

"That's because he hasn't had a consistent run. But those who have trained with him and marked him would know."

EXHIBITION

In light of his exhibition in Nowlan Park, early days though we most certainly are in 2015, more know now.

"David has beautiful touch and the match against Kilkenny showed that," Stakelum, who worked with Treacy for six years, much of which admittedly, the Cuala forward spent injured.

"He can do things that a lot of players just cannot do.

"It was just that his body was in such a state that he just couldn't get to the pitch of the game to show off those skills."

To recap.

A cruciate tear in 2010 forced him out for a year, missing that season's All-Ireland U21 semi-final, having limped through the season on dodgy hamstrings.

"It came at the real wrong time. It came when he was under-21. The knee gave way, then he got the knee repaired but ran into hamstring problems and calf problems and hip problems but it all seemed to stem from the cruciate injury he got," Stakelum recalls.

"Then, just with the guy's natural physique, he has a tendency to put on a little bit of weight. And that didn't help the situation. It was always one step forward, two steps back.

"He would almost be there and then he'd break down again.

A year previous, Treacy scored a hat-trick of goals in Thurles in a League match.

"We even thought 'if we could just get this guy for the championship…' because he wasn't physically fit to sustain 70 minutes non stop," Stakelum acknowledges.

By the time Dublin made the 2011 All-Ireland semi-final with Tipperary, Treacy had sniffed out some decent form and a straight line of fitness and a practice match seven days before would, management hoped, merely confirm his worthiness of a starting spot.

And then …. snap goes the hamstring.

"I remember looking at him as he lay on the table and the lads were putting the ice on him," Stakelum recalls.

"He must have been thinking 'Jesus, what do I have to do here?' That was probably the darkest place he got himself to."

Oddly, according to those who watched/helped his various recoveries, Treacy's enthusiasm never drained.

"Sometimes you're thinking, 'Jesus, will I ever get back to where I need to be again,' he admitted.

"But as soon as you start thinking like that, you're gone."

Says Stakelum: "We would have been very conscious to stay very close to David along the way because he would have seen nothing but darkness in front of him.

"He's a guy who responds to a lot of positive encouragement but he's now more mentally and physically mature.

"He has learned a lot of tough lessons and what you're seeing now is someone who is now grown up and someone who realises that, when you're younger, you're a bit indestructible.

"But now that he's a bit older," Stakelum adds, "you realise that your time is precious."

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