| 13.8°C Dublin

Kenny on course

IT says plenty of the precarious, delicate and quite often frustrating nature of cruciate ligament injuries that in 15 years, the recovery time hasn't shortened any, even if the process has modernised somewhat.

Ask Seamus Kenny.

The end of his second such convalescence is almost in sight, a decade-and-a-half after the former Meath captain first severed his cruciate as a teenager and the process, he says grimly, hasn't gotten much easier. "It's still the same recovery time," he told the Herald. "You have to put in the same hours. The rehabilitation programme has gotten better and improved but the time that you're out hasn't come down at all.

"I definitely wouldn't say it's easier. It's definitely not an easy injury to come back from. But having experienced it the first time definitely taught me a few things alright. It's different. The first time I did it, I was 17 and young and naive in that I did just what I had to whereas this time around, I did everything possible."

'Everything possible' has incorporated two and something three gym sessions a day since his operation seven months ago. Kenny will have his final consultation with Ray Moran on January 30th although a lesser knock to his 'good' knee on New Year's Eve has set back his re-entry to the Meath ranks by several weeks.

"At the moment, I'm just frustrated with myself," he admits. "Only for this other injury, I would have hoped to have played a little bit with the club on New Year's Day.

"When you've been out for so long, it's hard to take when another little minor setback puts you out. It's frustrating. But I'm hoping that that's the worst of it over now and I can get back playing a bit of football, first with the club and then get back into contention with Meath after that."

If that all sounds like a lot of hassle for a 32-year-old with so much county time behind him. That's because Kenny's Royal ambitions burn brighter than ever, and with good cause.

It was just seven minutes into last year's Leinster SFC opener with Wicklow when, scampering into the corner-back spot in pursuit of Seánie Furlong, Kenny toe-poked the ball out of his opponent's grasp and then again from another forward when the full weight of the player landed awkwardly on his left knee.

He played on for a couple of minutes but succumbed to the discomfort and was subbed after just 10 minutes.

Yet neither he nor then team physio Trevor Giles were prepared for the extent of the result of the scan he underwent in Santry the following Monday evening.

"I've been part of the Meath panel for 12 or 13 years and I love playing with Meath," he says. "Every time you get the jersey, it's just such a massive honour. So to go out and in playing the first round of the Championship and suffer an injury after seven minutes . . . I suppose there is probably no perfect way to finish a career but that's definitely not it."

He was, then, probably the only inter-county footballer north of 30 mad to play in this year's O'Byrne Cup but has now earmarked a couple of outings with Simonstown Gaels before wearing the Meath jersey again.

He says he was comforted to be invited and present at Mick O'Dowd first meeting of a provisional squad last November and that the new manager has been wholly accommodating of his plight.

"In fairness to Micko, he's been very supportive of me over the last couple of months. He hasn't put me under any pressure to do anything I shouldn't be," he explains.

"He has always had a calm word for me, even at stages when I was getting frustrated at my lack of progress.

"People who know me know how much I love playing for Meath.


"It's always a goal for me, especially with a new manager. Just because I'm there a certain number of years doesn't mean I deserve the jersey more than anyone else."

He has, of course, played for Seán Boylan's Meath, Eamon Barry's Meath, Colm Coyle's Meath, Eamonn O'Brien's Meath and Seamus McEnaney's Meath, a managerial turnover of monumental proportions since 2005.

Quite what O'Dowd's Meath transpire to be remains to be seen but Kenny is confident that the group are somewhere beyond square one.

"Unfortunately, the way the things have been in the last few years, there has been a lot of chopping and changing. The one things about this management team is that Micko has brought in three really highly regarded coaches that we would have worked with in the past (Colm Brady, Trevor Giles, Seán Kelly)."

"They're not starting from scratch. They know what they want and they know who is around the county. And the players have responded really well to Micko and the management. So if I can get back fit and earn my place on the squad," he adds, "it should be a good year."