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Enda Coughlan is hoping to be given the all clear to resume playing on March 5. Photograph by John Kelly.

Coughlan targets March 5 return date

CLARE and Kilmurry Ibrickane footballer Enda Coughlan is hoping that he will be given the all clear to resume playing on March 5. The 29 year old Garda injured the cruciate in his left knee playing championship football for his club in Doonbeg against Kilkee last July.

Since the operation on September 9, Coughlan has been training six nights weekly in the gym and on the running track.

“It’s coming on very well. I was up with (surgeon) Ray Moran before Christmas and he said that there is only 14% strength deficit between the legs. Once that’s down to 10% you can go back playing. I have a few other things to work on and I’m back up to him then on March 5 and hopefully I’ll be cleared to play then,” the Clare utility footballer told The Clare Champion this week.

Coughlan has been told that gaining full confidence in the repaired knee is possibly the most difficult step of all.

“It takes six months for the knee to accept the new cruciate. The longest part they reckon is in your own head then and trusting it. They say that after four months it’s probably perfect, bar contact but it’s all about trusting it and having the bravery to turn on it.”

However while he should be given the go ahead to play on March 5, it could take time before he does pull a jersey on for a competitive game.

“It’s hard to say. I should be clear to go back fully into it. Then it’s about getting back to match pace. With all of the running I’d be fit enough but getting match sharpness and trusting it is the hardest thing to do. That’s up to yourself. They can’t tell you any time frame on that. You don’t really miss football until it’s taken away from you for this long. I’d love to play in division 3. If I can get myself right and could do anything to help the team in the last few league games or championship, that would be great. But at my age the main thing is that it doesn’t go again or that you don’t do any more damage. That could spell the end,” he suggested.

Coughlan has been putting in the hours to give the knee every chance.

“Since the operation I’ve been training six nights a week. At the start it was six nights in the gym. At the moment I’m doing three nights running and three nights in the gym. In about three weeks I’m hoping to be back doing the drills at training at about 50%,” he explained adding that he has yet to risk sharp turns while running.

Coughlan feels that continuing to work as much as possible with Clare has helped him.

“In fairness to Colm (Collins) and the management, straight away when I asked them could I train with them, they said no problem. I wanted to train with them because I didn’t want to come back in March or April and just turn up then. At least now the lads can see that I’m putting in the effort and if I do come back, I’ll have been around with them since training started up. I’ve been lucky enough with injuries. I tore my quad the year before and along with the knee, they are the two longest times out I’ve had,” he said.

He clearly recalls how he picked up the injury.

“I went to turn and felt a little movement in the knee. I didn’t think it was too bad. It was a bit sore but it was fine then after a couple of seconds. When I tried to run on it then it felt weak. I got on the ball then and I fell. I knew then something wasn’t right so I came off. Michelle (Downes) told it looked like it was the cruciate. The hardest thing was watching the matches when Kilmurry were playing and when Clare start back in the league. This time of year it’s not too bad because everyone is starting back training. But watching matches is the killer.”

In the coming weeks Coughlan will be joined at training by his cousin Eoin Cleary, who had an ankle operation last week.

“Eoin is just after having the operation so when he comes back, I’ll probably be working with him. Up to now, mostly I’ve been working on my own. Chris Delooze is working with me on the sideline while the lads are training. I do the gym with Clare as well. Normally I’d try and get back as fast as I could but with this one, any set back and you’re looking at being out for a long time. I want to get this right and see from there,” the Kilmurry man noted.

By Peter O’Connell

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