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I thought somebody kicked me - Kelly on Achilles

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Niall Kelly

Niall Kelly

SPORTSFILE

Niall Kelly

Niall Kelly relives the moment it happened, nine days ago. Playing for Athy in the county senior final, the Kildare forward thought he had been kicked in the leg. He looked behind and saw no one there.

And then he knew he was in trouble. The medical upshot is that Kelly underwent surgery last Wednesday to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon.

As a consequence, Jack O'Connor must plan without one of his more gifted attackers for Kildare's remaining Allianz League Division Two games - vital home games against Cavan this Sunday and Westmeath on Saturday week - and then their quest to end Dublin's seemingly eternal Leinster reign.

Moreover, the 26-year-old is resigned to the fact that he won't kick another ball for a minimum six months.

The one consolation is that his excellent club form during this strangely disjointed season was pivotal in helping Athy back to the Kildare SFC summit after a nine-year wait.

He had pulled up with around 20 minutes left to play in their county final against Moorefield last Saturday week.

"It was just kind of a freak accident," Kelly told the Irish Independent. "I just went to run and my Achilles just gave way. Then I went up to see a specialist in Santry on Tuesday, and it turned out to be a rupture of the Achilles tendon so I had to get surgery then on Wednesday.

"It's probably going to be a pretty long road to come back," he added. "It's early stages and hard to tell exactly, and it will depend on how the rehab goes. I think early indications are that you'd be aiming for around six months, maybe just a little bit longer.

"Then it depends on how long it will take to get back up to full speed from then on."

Achilles ruptures tend to be sudden and painful.

"I actually thought that somebody had kicked me in the back of the leg. The specialist was saying to me that it's a common reaction, to look behind you to see who actually hit you.

"And that's exactly what happened me as well. But when I saw that there was no one behind me, I was like, 'Oh Jesus, this could be bad.' So yeah, unfortunately it turned out to be the worst scenario.

"To be honest, when the injury occurred, I almost accepted straight away that I might not be able to play any football for the rest of this year anyway because I just knew that it was something bad."

Whereas this year's county final transpired to be personally bittersweet, Kelly was still buzzing at the outcome.

"It was such a relief, because it was nine years of being very close to it. I mean, the cup hadn't left Newbridge since (2011) so it was nice to get it back again. And it just created a great buzz around the place, given the tough times that everyone is going through at the moment," he reflected.