Some 474 days had passed since Lauren Egbuloniou took to the pitch.
No wonder her Cork City team-mates celebrated her return as if they had just scored a last-minute winner.
The Cobh native suffered a horrific injury in a Women’s National League game against Limerick last year and had to endure a prolonged spell away from the thing she loves most — playing football.
Last week, the talented forward ended that exile by appearing as a substitute in the loss away to Shelbourne. And now she will be pestering boss Ronan Collins about breaking into the starting line-up as they host Peamount United tomorrow.
Collins will have to consider how to ease Egbuloniou back into action considering her lengthy lay-off, but her cameo against Shelbourne suggested that she’s ready right now.
“It was great to have her back. It’s one thing coming back and it’s another coming back and having a big impact on the game, which she did, so that was great to see.
“We’ve also had Shaunagh McCarthy out with a long-term injury, so herself and Lauren were like twins supporting each other throughout that recovery period.
“Lauren was excellent during that period, she turned up to training sessions — some in the height of winter — and she did all of the rehab work that she had to get done.
“We thought that she might, naturally, be a little bit behind the other girls after such a long time away but she has really pushed herself on. Her attitude has been top class and it is a credit to her that she’s now back in the mix with us.”
Egbuloniou learned her craft at Springfield Ramblers before making the switch to Cork City and she is very much a player with a bright future, with scouts for the Republic of Ireland Under-19 set-up monitoring her comeback closely.
A tricky forward with an eye for goal, the wiry teenager is someone Peamount will be aware of as they visit Bishopstown hoping to collect a second win of the new season.
The League champions recorded a 5-0 victory over Treaty United last week, however they will not be getting carried away as their manager, James O’Callaghan, knows that Cork have the ability to derail their game-plan.
“It’s always tough going down to Bishopstown. Cork are a good, young side. Ronan [Collins] has had them a couple of seasons now so we are expecting a really tough match,” said O’Callaghan.
TODAY: Bohemians v Galway WFC, Oscar Traynor Centre, KO 2pm; DLR Waves v Shelbourne, UCD Bowl, KO 6:30pm; Athlone Town v Wexford Youths, Athlone Town Stadium, KO 7pm.
TOMORROW: Cork City v Peamount United, Bishopstown Stadium, KO 2pm.