When one door closes, another opens? Not always

Asked to sum up the 12 months since he joined Portsmouth from Derry City, Ronan Curtis smiles and says: “It’s been amazing, my journey so far. Coming in from Derry to Portsmouth, I didn’t think I was going to play.

When one door closes, another opens? Not always

Asked to sum up the 12 months since he joined Portsmouth from Derry City, Ronan Curtis smiles and says: “It’s been amazing, my journey so far. Coming in from Derry to Portsmouth, I didn’t think I was going to play.

"I thought I’d be a squad man but the gaffer and the staff put their faith in me and I played most of the season, really, and I scored 13 goals and set up 16 or 17.”

Throw in two senior Ireland appearances and an FAI U21 Player of the Year award and it’s easy to see why the 23-year-old London-born, Donegal-bred forward would describe it as “a good season all round”.

Well, except, of course, for losing out in the League One play-off semi-final to Sunderland.

Oh, and almost losing a finger.

It was back at the start of March that Curtis sustained the freak injury that meant he missed the first two games of Mick McCarthy’s second coming.

That thing they say about when one door closes, another opens? Not true in his case.

“We had a game, Walsall away on a Tuesday night, and we were to meet up in the morning, I think it was for eight o’clock,” he recalls.

“I went to close the door and it didn’t slam, and when I went to close it again the wind just blew the door. Luckily I managed to get the rest of my fingers out.

“It wasn’t sore when I did it. I didn’t think it was bad. It was bad in a sense that it was hanging off (laughter), but I didn’t feel the pain straight away.

"When I felt the pain was when I ran back up the stairs and put my hand underneath the cold water.

"That’s when the nerves and the shock hit me. It started stinging then and that was it, straight to the hospital.

“Luckily my brother was in the house so he drove me there. He was worse than me, I think, because he was still in bed at the time.

"I was shouting up to him and he saw the blood all over the floor, so he probably thought something mad had happened. But it was just a bloody finger.”

Albeit a bloody finger that needed rather more than a sticking plaster to fix.

“I thought they’d have had to cut half of it off,” says Curtis. “It was just a little tiny piece of skin that was holding it on.

So what I had to do was, before I went to the hospital, peel it back over and hold it myself, just hold it in place.

"I had a cloth with ice in it and I just put my finger in between the ice and cloth and held it there for 20 minutes or so until I got to the hospital.

“And they managed to save it. They said the nerves were still lovely and pink. If they were black, then it would have had to come off. So, God was looking after me.

"They have done an amazing job on it, the surgeons and plastic surgery people. It’s just a little scar now.

"I broke the bone in the finger and that was a few weeks healing. It’s three and a half months now, and I can’t feel it.

"If I put my hand out now, I can hold people off, so it’s not too bad. Even falling now, I can’t really feel it. It’s just like a normal feeling.”

Not surprisingly, Curtis has become very careful about how he closes doors.

“Yeah, I have. I even get wary now around other people closing doors. I know how sore it was on me. I give them a little reminder.

"My daughter, she’s a nightmare, three, nearly four, always running around, closing doors and stuff. I always tell her Mum to watch her.

"I know what kids are like with doors. If a kid did it, it would be even worse.”

Like Curtis, Preston’s Callum Robinson — who was one of the brighter lights in an otherwise gloomy 2018 for Ireland — missed this year’s opening Euro 2020 qualifiers through injury, although in his case it was a more orthodox if hardly routine football one.

“I felt two jolts and one was my hamstring and the second was my tendon coming away from the bone,” he says, of the moment on the pitch when he was hit with the double whammy.

“I was gutted. I’ve never been injured before. I think I missed about one game in five years of first team football.

"So it was a real disappointment from being so high and playing the best I’ve probably played in my career to being out for four months.

"It was hard to deal with but I came back and played the last eight or nine games of the season, which was good, and now I’m back in here and feeling much stronger.”

And the even better news for Mick McCarthy is there were no fresh injury concerns as the entire Irish squad — including Championship play-off participants Conor Hourihane, Glenn Whelan and Richard Keogh, along with Jeff Hendrick who had been given time off to attend his brother’s wedding — trained yesterday in Abbotstown, as preparations intensify for Friday’s big Euros qualifier against Denmark in Copenhagen.

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