O’Neill: It all depends on severity of injury

Personal experience had injured Cork footballer Colm O’Neill fearing the worst when Colm Cooper crashed to the ground 19 minutes into Saturday’s All-Ireland club semi-final.

O’Neill, present in Portlaoise, is in the final stages of recovery following a third cruciate ligament operation and preempted the Kerry captain was in danger of suffering a similar fate.

A scan taken at the Santry Sports Clinic yesterday revealed the 30-year old had ruptured his cruciate ligament and O’Neill said the next move is to schedule a date with the surgeon.

“The quicker you get it done, the quicker you can start your recovery,” noted O’Neill. “That was my thinking. I am not sure what Colm’s situation is, whether he will wait or not.

“It is normally an eight to 12 month period for recovery. It all depends on the severity of the injury. My three cruciate injuries have varied in the length of time I was out. I was |sidelined for six months the first time, eight months the second time and I am 12 months out with my third cruciate injury and I still haven’t returned. Each knee and each individual is different.

“During surgery the surgeon will replace the cruciate ligament with a ligament of the hamstring. My first two times a hamstring graph was used and then the third time there was no hamstring graph left so they had to use a tendon from the front of the knee. That is all surgical choice. Some surgeons prefer the hamstring graph, others the tendon. It is really six of one, half a dozen of the other.”

Each cruciate victim is laid up for a period of three to four weeks post-surgery before a program of recovery is drawn. O’Neill claimed the first month is by far the most testing on a player.

“You are given exercises to be doing two to three days after the operation, keep moving your toes and keep moving the circulation.

“What I found the toughest were the first four weeks when you can’t really do anything. You feel like you are making no progress. In saying that, there is no point going off the crutches early and limping around and not allowing the knee heel properly. Once you can walk without too much of a limp you can dispense with the crutches. From there, small little steps are made and the recovery really starts. You start to do the different exercises outlined and you can feel with each passing week that you are making progress.

“The three stages of rehab for me were similar enough. It was between four and five months that I started back into the running, twisting and turning. After five and six months you can start back into drills and basic non-contact stuff.”


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