Dowling not yet resigned to watching from the sidelines

Dowling not yet resigned to watching from the sidelines
Shane Dowling watches his team warm up at Limerick Senior Hurling Championship Final, LIT Gaelic Grounds, Limerick 6/10/2019 Photo: INPHO/James Crombie

You might think the break in action would do Shane Dowling the world of good, writes John Fogarty.

That a delay in proceedings could actually see him in Limerick colours again this season. Well, the answer is yes and no.

The prognosis didn’t look at all rosy a couple of weeks ago to the extent that manager John Kiely admitted the 2015 All-Star might be out for the year.

“Shane has a knee injury at the moment and the progress on it is really, really poor in terms of him finding improvements in it and being able to re-engage with training.”

The outlook is a little brighter now that Dr Tadhg O’Sullivan worked his magic on the Na Piarsaigh man’s right knee.

“When John spoke after the Westmeath game, I had got pretty bad news the previous week. Subsequent to that, I met Tadhg O’Sullivan and he gave me better news and he did a fantastic job of an operation on me.

“The problem with a microfracture procedure is that it’s a lot more severe than a cruciate. 

If you do a cruciate, it takes you nine to 12 months, you do your rehab and you get back; with this, there is no defined time and that’s frustrating.

It’s the second time O’Sullivan has operated on Dowling’s knee after the problem flared up in the 2017 county final win over Kilmallock. 

The surgery took place a few weeks prior to when Dowling’s Na Piarsaigh took on a Ballygunner panel featuring four of O’Sullivan’s sons in the Munster final. 

That procedure sidelined him until the All-Ireland semi-final win over Slaughtneil when he came off the bench to score a goal.

He says the injury is complicated to describe but distills it as “a pothole to fill and then let it settle but if you don’t let it settle it’s going to dent away and go again. The question is how long before that pothole is no more. I don’t know but you just have to plough on.”

The 27-year-old has sought the opinions of several people about the recovery timeline.

“It could take six to nine months all going well and I’m in month six right now. Nine months would bring it up to around June time but the problem is how much work will I be able to get done between now and June.”

And therein lies the rub. 

Delayed club and county championships might appear to be good news for Dowling’s recovery but the coronavirus precautions mean he can’t rehab as much as he would like. 

As he explains: “It’s fallen at a bad time for me. What’s happening to me is insignificant in the grand scheme of things but being selfish about it in terms of the work I have to do and the access to pitches and gyms it’s difficult. 

I just have to make do with what I have at home and steal a few bits and pieces from people and hopefully that will work.”

If the Championship is started in the early summer Dowling knows he will have to be ready at that stage to feature in Kiely’s plans. 

“I can’t be coming back in June looking to start fresh because obviously that writes off the year. 

"I need to be coming back right for then but if it doesn’t move as quickly for me it could be August or September before it’s 100%.

“When I got the first operation at the end of September, I put timelines on everything and all I’ve done is disappoint myself time after time. 

Timelines are out the window. If inter-county happens this year, it happens and if it doesn’t please God I get back for the club championship

“I don’t think what’s happening now at the moment will give me more time to be ready.

“They might look at changing the structure of the Championship for the year or cancel it.

“Limerick have moved to postpone the club championship games next month and that’s being realistic rather than waiting around and hoping for the best.

The answer I’m giving to everyone is nobody knows what’s going to happen with the rest of the season.”

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