Sligo veteran O’Hara in New York state of mind

The longest serving footballer in the country is relishing the start of his 19th championship campaign.

Sligo’s Eamon O’Hara has recovered from a second cruciate ligament injury playing for his Tourlestrane last summer and is desperate to help his county’s cause in 2012.

The 36-year old: “It’s great to be back. It was a long seven months, you wonder how long it would take to get back but in fairness to Kevin Walsh, he gave me a phone call a month after the operation and said ‘we want you back’.

“It gave me the motivation to keep training, to keep going to the gym, and it gave me a chink of light because there were days when you did say to yourself ‘this is not going to happen’, and it just wasn’t coming right but thankfully it did,” said O’Hara who made his debut in 1994.

He became the longest-serving footballer when Kildare’s Anthony Rainbow retired in 2010, although he surrendered the title last summer when Graham Geraghty made his brief return for Meath. O’Hara, who won his only Connacht medal in 2007, said he was determined to make a full recovery even if he never returned for Sligo.

“Thankfully it has paid off that I am back. Kevin feels there is a role for me and I feel I have something to offer.

“If I get a game, great, if am part of the panel, great and if I am not, then hopefully I will have some role somewhere to do,” said the 2002 All-Star.

The last time Sligo were away to New York, they went on to win the Connacht title and O’Hara believes they benefited from the trip to the US.

“We stayed on for a couple of extra days. We didn’t do anything hectic in training but we just had collective training sessions in New York on the astroturf pitch and we just had a bit of craic together. We really got to know each other very well and we were stuck in each other’s company. We had great craic, really enjoyed it, it bonded the team and it worked really well.”

Sligo depart for New York today and O’Hara is looking forward to the trip.

“From Thursday to Monday, it will be all about getting to know the lads. It is amazing when you are rooming together and you are trying to kill time, you would chat to a guy you might not normally chat to and we will get to know each other.

“But we are going out there to do a job and that is what we are focusing on, trying to get the result we can get and coming home and then focusing on the next game, be it Roscommon or Galway. It is one step at a time and we will give it our best shot. It won’t be for lack of effort that this Sligo team will not be successful this year after not performing last year and letting ourselves down.”


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