Dick Clerkin ruled out for another month due to injury

Monaghan midfielder fractured eye socket in an accidental training ground collision

Monaghan's Dick Clerkin, the longest serving intercounty football player, has been forced to delay his return to action this season due to a serious facial injury suffered in what he termed a 'freak' training ground collision.

Clerkin, 35, was left with a fractured eye socket after accidentally clashing faces with another Monaghan panellist who also suffered a broken nose from the impact.

Clerkin said he feared an even more serious injury at first himself and was relieved to have only been ruled out of action for another month.

The veteran midfielder had hoped to make a return to Monaghan's match day panel last weekend for their Round 3 Allianz football league tie with Dublin at Croke Park following ankle surgery.

He went under the knife last November and had returned to full training when the sickening collision occurred which has forced him to put back his return date to the end of their Division One campaign, possibly against Donegal or Kerry.

“It was a bad clash of heads, totally accidental and one of those freak things that just happened,” said Clerkin. “The two heads were just dipping in at the same time and it was a fairly severe collision so the outcome could have been a lot worse. I actually got away light enough.

“I never got a bang like that before in all my career so I didn’t really know how to react. Initially, I was just checking was the jaw alright? Did I lose any teeth? Was I concussed?

“When all of that was okay I went up for an X-ray thinking I might have got away with it so I was a bit disappointed to hear I’d fractured the eye socket. But the main thing is that it doesn’t need an operation so that’s a big positive.

“It’s a setback, particularly because I was making good progress from the ankle operation and was hoping to get back into action around now. I was in full training and going well but it’s not the end of the world. It’s just set me back a month or so.”

Chelsea striker Diego Costa wore a protective face mask in Wednesday's Premier League win over Norwich. Clerkin said he may have considered doing the same if it was the middle of the championship instead of early march. Ulster champions Monaghan host Mayo on Sunday and with two wins from their three games played are in a relatively comfortable position.

Big game

Clerkin agreed the game against Mayo in Clones is a hugely significant one in the context of their overall campaign.

“If we don’t get the result we’re going to be down in a battle with other teams on two and four points,” said Clerkin. “Mayo are obviously still seeking their first win so it’s a big game for both teams that could dictate the rest of the league really.”

Meanwhile, former Munster Council chairman Noel Walsh has vowed to challenge the requirement for a two-thirds majority vote for rule changes to be passed by Annual Congress something he deemed "undemocratic".

Walsh was the architect of a separate motion calling for county grounds nationwide to be made available to non-GAA sports though it received just 23 per cent support at last weekend’s gathering in Carlow.

But Walsh suggested a 55 per cent majority, or even a simple majority, should suffice and promised to raised the issue at Clare’s convention.

If a simple majority had sufficed last weekend, failed motions such as bringing forward the All-Ireland final dates (60.8 per cent) and restricting replays to All-Ireland and provincial finals (57.8 per cent) would have passed.

“If the majority of delegates, and in turn their counties, want something done then that should suffice,” said Walsh.