Jack McCarron hoping ‘rough years’ are behind him

Injury plagued Monaghan attacker Jack McCarron is keeping his fingers crossed that he’s finally turned his back on a ‘rough’ few years.

The classy Currin forward has struck 2-14 in his last three Allianz league games, including 1-7 against Roscommon on Sunday, to fire Monaghan to joint top spot in Division 1.

His top form is well timed as Monaghan required a fresh scoring outlet to take the burden off talisman Conor McManus who hit a remarkable 48 percent of their scores in the 2016 league.

That led to inevitable claims that Monaghan are overly reliant on McManus though McCarron has actually scored more so far this year than his forward colleague. The return of the full-forward to full fitness has also freed Kieran Hughes to take up a permanent role at midfield alongside Darren Hughes, establishing one of the best midfield partnerships in the game.

“It’s good to be back playing a good bit of football,” said McCarron. “I had a rough couple of years there so it’s great to be back playing and getting on the team. Hopefully, that continues. I did my cruciate in October 2014 and then I came back and the hamstrings were at me for last year and at the end of last year I got back in for the Championship.

“Then I had to get an operation on my ankle after that, from a club game, so I’m just back really at the start of this year.

“It’s been very frustrating. I’m lucky to have the lads there, they’ve kept pushing me on. Ryan (Porter, strength and conditioning coach) was very good to me there, setting gym programmes and that sort of thing.”

McCarron played in the 2014 Division 2 final win over Donegal and started that summer in the Championship before suffering the cruciate damage months later. “It was in a club league game up in Castleblaney,” he said. “It was a nothing match. I was coming down from college on a Wednesday night to play a match. We were already relegated but I played the game anyway and did the cruciate.”

McCarron, son of former All-Star Ray, will get another shot at Donegal on Sunday when Monaghan meet their Ulster rivals in Ballyshannon.

The sides met in the final round last season and a narrow win was enough to keep Monaghan in the top flight for another season, preserving their proud Division 1 status.

As for lightening the load on experienced attacking colleague McManus, McCarron shrugged and said he’s just interested in delivering on his own potential. “Sure he’s one of the top players in the country for the last couple of years so it’s always nice to get playing with someone like him,” said McCarron.

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