Tuesday 28 January 2020

Setbacks fuelling Paddy's hunger for more success

Andrews lost seven kilos in the ten days after he suffered 'horrendous' broken jaw

VETERAN CAMPAIGNER: Dublin’s Paddy Andrews at Parnell Park ahead of the All-Ireland SFC final. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
VETERAN CAMPAIGNER: Dublin’s Paddy Andrews at Parnell Park ahead of the All-Ireland SFC final. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Paddy Andrews knew he was in trouble before he even hit the ground.

The evening of March 16 was a damp and blustery one in Dublin city and the League game between Tyrone and Dublin seemed like it was being contested by teams feeding off different energy sources.

Tyrone were direct and aggressive. Dublin were passive and slow to react.

Andrews had only been on the pitch in Croke Park twelve minutes when he chased down a ball into the corner where the Hogan Stand and the old Nally Stand intersect.

As he gathered - and before he had time to turn - Niall Morgan came steaming in and caught the St Brigid's man flush on the right side of his jaw with the top if his shoulder.

Andrews flopped to his knees and then to the ground.

Literally and figuratively speaking, he was out of the game.

"The doctor and the physio ran on," he recalls now, "and I said, 'Don't touch me here, I know there's something wrong'.

"There was blood coming out of my mouth so they said, 'Look, we just need to have a look, lift your head up'.

"I lifted my head up and the whole jaw popped out.

Andrews adds wryly: "I had a fair idea that I was under pressure then.

"It was just very, very painful. It was horrendous."

The following day, Andrews had two metal plates inserted and his jaw wired shut.


Determined to be of some use to the squad, he helped out with the Dublin stats team eight days later in their final League game in Breffni Park.

But despite assurances from his surgeon about the commonality of the injury, a broken jaw brings additional complications for an elite athlete.

In the first ten days after the Tyrone match, Andrews lost seven kilos - just over a stone in old money.

"I couldn't really eat anything, so it was just kinda yoghurts and smoothies and things like that, because I was wired up," he recalls.

"It was really affecting my sleep as well because I couldn't lie on that side, because that's where I was clamped, and then the other side was broken as well."

It was seven weeks before he was back in contact training.

All through, people were pointing fingers in the direction of Morgan, who was booked for his part in the incident.

But Andrews explains that contact was made between the two and he became singularly concerned about regaining his fighting weight and forcing his way back into Gavin's plans than retaining a grudge.

"To be honest, some people were getting kind of worked up about it," he says.

"I took that at face value from Niall, and I actually had a very brief chat with him in Omagh after the (Super 8s) game."

Since then, he has inched his way back into contention for game time in this, Dublin's eighth All-Ireland final of the decade.

But there are two moments that occurred within a month of each other in 2009 that he says demonstrates the seismic change that Dublin football has undergone.

The first was captured in picture; Andrews holding his five fingers up for a photographer in Croke Park after the Leinster final, indicating the number of provincial titles Dublin had won in a row that day by beating Kildare.

"I don't think I'd do that celebration again!" he confirms now.

The second came in the All-Ireland quarter-final three weeks later during Andrews' brief existence as an inter-county defender.

In an attempt to prevent Colm Cooper from scoring his early goal that day, David Henry careered into one of the Dublin posts and was injured.

Dublin selector Colin Moran came in and informed Andrews he was to switch corners and mark Cooper.

"I was like, 'the Gooch!' That was my reaction!

"That's probably part of the reason of why we were so outplayed that day.

"And they were valuable lessons to be learned. I think any team has to go through that. It's very hard to come out as a bolt from the blue and get to the pinnacle without a couple of setbacks.

"And we certainly had them."


His own greatest setback was missing that breakthrough All-Ireland win against Kerry two years later but Andrews identifies that painful episode now was a key moment in his own maturing process.

"I wouldn't change it," he insists.

"Pat just said 'you're not giving us enough.' I didn't know what it took to win All-Irelands.

"And looking back now, you cringe, of course. I just didn't do enough in preparing or getting the best out of myself.

"But the older you get, the more appreciative you are," Andrews adds. "You don't know how many more opportunities you're going to get."

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