Michael Meehan has revealed he was taking painkillers twice a day last year to combat his chronic ankle problem.
The Galway forward, 27, made his first competitive appearance in 10 months on Sunday when he kicked two points coming off the bench in the Connacht quarter-final win over Roscommon.
It’s been a long road back and Meehan, who was visibly hobbling after the game, had his left ankle iced and elevated before venturing for a dip in the Atlantic Ocean. The joint has little cartilage, and although admitting he’s a good bit away from playing a full 70 minute inter-county game, Meehan is glad to have taken the biggest step yet away from those dark days last year.
“I still have to take a little bit for matchday and that,” he admitted, about the painkillers. “There was a time last summer that it was crazy. I didn’t like what I was doing, having to take them a couple of times a day, every day. That’s not good long term. I’m happy I don’t have to do that now.”
Meehan won’t get back to training until tomorrow and hopes to play the full hour in Caltra’s championship game against Claregalway on Sunday.
With a series of ankle, shoulder and knee problems, he hasn’t played a full game since lining out against Cork in the 2010 Allianz League. While he’s more than keen to return to play a fuller role for club and county, he’s learned to be patient.
“I’m hoping as the summer wears on that I’ll build up a tolerance,” he said.
Meehan’s marker on Sunday, Seanie McDermott, showed little sympathy towards Meehan when, as soon as the Galway man was introduced, he sprinted forward 100 yards. But Meehan duly ran with him. Was the Roscommon corner-back testing him?
“Ah, of course he was, yeah. I know Sean well. I’ve had a few battles with him down through the years. It was no harm. It got my second wind up a bit, too. You’re going to have little battles like that outside of the bigger picture and that’s what makes it interesting.”
Meehan was also confident enough to kick the ball from the ground when converting a free from his trusty left boot.
“That’s part of my game. It’s all duck or no dinner, whatever way you want to put it. It’s part of my game.
“I can’t practice as much as I used to. I’m hoping I can get back to the standard that I was in time. I’m not rushing.
“But I’m training more than I ever did. It’s putting in time but it’s not running around the pitch training. It’s rehab, it’s stretching, it’s working with the physio or rehab coach. That side to it is huge for me now.”
As Meehan told the Irish Examiner last week, the medical opinion was he would never play again.
After so long on the sidelines, he’s happy right now to be making some sort of a playing contribution.
“You just want to help out because all last year and the summer before, I was looking in, things weren’t going well and all you wanted to do was try and improve things. That’s all I’m still trying to do.”
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