'Once you plant that foot, you know it's solid and good to go. There's no hiding'
TOMÁS BRADY remembers the first time he planted his leg in the turf, felt no pain or instability, and knew he was past the worst of his second cruciate comeback.
"It was in January. It was in a one-on-one drill," he explains. "You're in the pit there and there's no hiding. I think that was the moment for me, running at the defender at the time.
"I was so anxious that it would give up. Once you plant that foot, you know that it's solid and good to go."
His first came in June 2011 in O'Connor Park after buckling whilst turning to give chase to Joe Canning.
Thus, he became one of the 'cruciate three', and merry band of Dublin hurlers comprising Brady, Stephen Hiney and Conal Keaney on whom's necessarily swift recovery became the background noise to much of the team's preparations for the 2012 season.
"Last year I was very lucky in that the support system in place with this team is very good," he recalls of his second, a routine training ground mishap.
"There wasn't any moment where I didn't feel a part of the squad. From the players to the management to the county board, the support system is excellent.
"I was always looking forward to getting back playing football. And as the summer goes on, you feel everyone's getting sharper and performance levels are improving."
Any better the second time 'round?
"You know what's involved. The second time, you know the mistakes you made the first time. Probably trying to rush back too much.
"Even now you see with the couple of lads there (Ciarán Kilkenny and Kevin O'Brien), they're already really enthusiastic to keep pushing and pushing.
"You really just have to be patient and go through the phases of rehab and have diligence in what you're doing.
"You try and just share whatever advice you can.
"You'll always have common ground there with the fact that they've had the same injury. But they're strong characters."
All of which is why Brady would love a Leinster medal on Sunday.
He will, should Brady play a part, share the pitch with Stephen Cluxton, a man with nine such provincial gongs.
But having missed out last year having made a fairly brave leap from established member of the Dublin hurling team to one of a cast of millions with the footballers, a first Leinster medal would do nicely.
"Especially a Meath/Dublin final," he enthuses.
"It would very special to get one. Meath are proud football county. So to get one up on them would be really special.
"Growing up, you would have watched those matches all the time."
"Even last year, Meath probably thought they could have won the game. They had goal chances right up until the second half.
"This year, they're probably one of the form sides in the country.
"They have leaders in defence," Brady concludes.
"The games they've played to now, they're been in great form."