Thursday 21 February 2019

Cian anxious to get back in

O'Sullivan targets 'Super 8s' comeback after surgery

Distraught: Dublin Cian O’Sullivan is carted off against Kerry in Croke Park
Distraught: Dublin Cian O’Sullivan is carted off against Kerry in Croke Park

The initial sensation, Cian O'Sullivan recalls, was "agony". Then, even after the pain had settled down, came the "frustrating" part: you're going to be out for a few months and there's nothing you can do about it. Except rehab and then rehab some more.

The Dublin defender's first start of 2018, against Kerry over five weeks ago, will be his last for some time.

Late in that surprisingly lopsided Allianz League contest, O'Sullivan's shoulder - which had been troubling him for several months - popped out. A dislocation meant scans and then an operation later that week.

So far, so good on the rehab trail, but the three-time All Star can't give you any "definitive" comeback date

"You kind of get told a few different return-to-play times, from four months back to three months," he outlines. "I'll just throw the kitchen sink at it in terms of rehab and see where I get to."

The start of Dublin's Leinster campaign, on the last weekend in May, "could possibly be a bit too soon, but I'll see how it goes over the next couple of weeks; there's a chance it could be okay".

July and the Super 8s are clearly a priority, presuming (as everyone does) the Dubs make it there.

"I'd be quite disappointed if I wasn't back training fully at that stage," he confirms.

O'Sullivan has endured lots of hamstring problems over the years and previously underwent hip surgery during the off-season, but this qualifies as the most serious trauma of his decorated career in Sky Blue.

And yet he accepts it was probably a setback waiting to happen.

"I had a kind of ongoing problem for the last six months and it was just progressively getting worse," he explains.

"It never popped out, but there's a labrum in between the ball and the socket of the shoulder joint and that was just all torn, so they've to go and repair that and stabilise the shoulder."

He had come off the bench against Donegal and Mayo before returning to the starting line-up against Kerry.


"It's a very painful experience. It was agony, yeah, just when the shoulder is popped out. Then the physios came on and they're able to just give it a slight, very gentle nod in the right direction and it slipped back in.

"It was a pretty innocuous collision, so I'd say it wasn't going to take much to pop out," he adds. "And the chances of recurrence without getting the surgery are pretty high, so it was best just to get the job done."

Since the operation there have been two significant milestones for O'Sullivan: he turned 30 and got engaged to long-term girlfriend Danielle Byrne.

Meeting the media at yesterday's launch of the #All-IrelandSmiles campaign - an initiative to educate Ireland's primary school students on the importance of good oral hygiene - a previous landmark was broached: he's one of just three Dubs, Stephen Cluxton and James McCarthy being the others, to have started all five All-Ireland SFC triumphs this decade.

"I guess that's pretty cool. In good company there, definitely!" he says, before reflecting: "I guess I've just been very lucky that in the latter parts of the championship, I've been able to keep a clean bill of health.

"I know in 2011 I missed the whole campaign and I wasn't back fit until a couple of weeks before the quarter-final. It just worked out perfectly for me that I was able to get fit, I was firing, very hungry and ambitious.

"My season to that date looked like a complete catastrophe because I wasn't able to get a string of games or training sessions together. I must have done my hamstring double-digit times."

He still rates 2015 as a personal favourite, despite suffering another hamstring injury at the end of Dublin's semi-final replay against Mayo.

"It was really touch-and-go to make that final," he recalls. "I lived and breathed rehab for two weeks. Cryotherapy, everything that was suggested to me, I tried it. Thankfully I lasted 60 minutes against Kerry.

"Definitely, from a personal perspective, it was the one that stands out for me. To sit back afterwards and go, 'wow, I really worked my socks off there for those two weeks and it paid off'."

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