Former All-Ireland winning Cuala captain Paul Schutte has admitted he was advised to quit hurling by medics last year but opted not to. The ex-Dublin defender won his fourth Dublin SHC medal on Sunday just months after specialists suggested he step away from the game after a serious hamstring injury.
Schutte captained Cuala to All-Ireland success in 2018 when they retained the title though he played through the pain barrier after badly damaging his hamstring in the Leinster final months earlier.
“It was torn off the bone,” said Schutte of his hamstring injury. “When I went to Santry Clinic, your man told me to retire. I didn’t really like his answer! So I went over to London, got a second opinion and he did an operation. He just said, ‘Tip away’. The guy over there looks after the soccer players, the Premier League and rugby lads and he was like, ‘We’ll hopefully get you back’.”
The 30-year-old played the entire game on Sunday as Cuala overcame St Brigid’s to claim their fourth title in five seasons and return to the Leinster club championship. But centre-back Schutte admitted it hasn’t been a total recovery for him and said he’s now restricted to a limited training and playing schedule.
The hamstring first went in the (2017) Leinster final, I didn’t play the All-Ireland semi-final after that and then played a game and a half in the finals against Na Piarsaigh. I’d say I’ve basically played about five games in the space of two, three years
“I played the league final against ‘Boden this year and I’ve probably played two or three games since then. I’m just trying to get as much game time as I can. I maybe train once before a game and play the matches, that’s about it.
“I was blowing hard there against Brigid’s. But at half-back, if you’re clever with your runs you can get away with it. It’s not like you’re playing corner-forward or corner-back where you’re doing a lot of sharp running.”
Schutte lined out for Dublin when they won the 2013 Leinster title and crowned his career by captaining his club to that All-Ireland win in 2018. Nobody would have blamed him for packing his hurley away but he still had a personal goal to reach.
“When I started out, I had a goal that my Dad and uncles won three (Dublin) championships so I wanted to win four,” he said. “Now we’ve got four so I’ll have another decision to make at Christmas.
“It is doable to keep at it but you have to kind of weigh it up. As in, I can’t really train to get better, I can only really train to maintain. So I don’t know if that’s something I want to do. This is a very sombre interview after winning a county title! I’m absolutely buzzing is the truth of it.”
Cuala could be without dual superstar Con O’Callaghan for Sunday week’s Leinster club quarter-final clash with Carlow’s St Mullins. The Footballer of the Year nominee was taken off after being struck by the boot of Brigid’s and Dublin goalkeeper Alan Nolan while in the process of scoring an early goal.
“It was a disappointing tackle,” said Schutte. “I saw it. I saw there was one similar to it last year and it’s a dangerous enough tackle to be doing. I don’t know what else to be saying, it was a bad tackle.”