Cian O’Sullivan looking forward to return to action for Dublin
Centre-back’s recovery from a dislocated shoulder going according to plan
Dublin’s Cian O’Sullivan at the launch of the #AllIrelandSmiles campaign for 2018. “Hopefully now, in the next number of weeks, I’ll be back playing, back training.” Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
As one of only three Dublin footballers to start all five of their All-Ireland final wins this decade, Cian O’Sullivan is naturally intent on making it six. Should of course Dublin get that far.
Despite his best efforts to suggest otherwise, Dublin can be pretty sure of making the new Super-8 stage, and that’s when O’Sullivan will be needed most.
That means taking whatever time is necessary to recover from the dislocated shoulder sustained in the league win over Kerry, in Croke Park, back on March 3rd: that being O’Sullivan’s first start of 2018, he’s now likely to miss the start of Dublin’s championship, against Offaly or Wicklow, on May 27th.
What’s the rush? He’s also been here before, overcoming injury at various stages of the season to effectively peak for those All-Ireland finals – in which only goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton and James McCarthy have also started all five.
“As far as I’m being told, the rehab is progressing pretty well so hopefully now, in the next number of weeks, I’ll be back playing, back training,” says O’Sullivan. “You kind of get told a few different return-to-play times, from four months, back to kind of three months. So I don’t want to put any definitive timeline there.
“I’ll just throw the kitchen sink at it in terms of rehab and see where I get to. So yeah, just rehabbing at the moment and going back with the county after the club games are finished and see where I’m at then. So hopefully I’ll be back as soon as we possibly can.”
The nature of the injury – a full dislocation – necessitated surgery to help ensure it wouldn’t happen again, and it had been an issue for a while.
“Yeah, for the last six months, and it was just progressively getting worse. And the chances of recurrence without getting the surgery are pretty high, so it was best just to get the job done, get the matter dealt with, once and for all. It’s a very painful experience as well, agony. But it’s not until they actually go in, and they do the operation, that they see what’s going on. The surgeon said it was definitely the right call to get it done, so I guess from that perspective it’s a bit of good news.
“One positive from it, it’s an upper-body injury so you can go back and be aerobically fit by the time you get back. It’s just building confidence in it then to take the hits and getting back into contact.”
For O’Sullivan, speaking at the launch of the Sensodyne All-Ireland smiles campaign, these little setbacks are now par for the course.
“I had a bad hip injury a couple of years ago and had to get surgery on that, but that was in the off-season, over the winter. So I wasn’t under any major pressure to get back in a certain period of time so I was able to take my time with the rehab and all that, and came back and that completely dealt with any of the hip problems I had.”
A hamstring injury in 2015, after the semi-final replay win over Mayo, almost forced to miss that year’s final.
“Yeah, it was really touch and because it was a replay against Mayo, we only had two weeks to get right, it was just a race against time to try and get back. It was an All-Ireland final so you just had to throw the kitchen sink at the rehab, and try every possible angle to get back. I lived and breathed rehab for two weeks, cryotherapy, did everything that was suggested to me, I tried it. Anything from that to diet to rehab techniques.
“And thankfully, it lasted 60 minutes in that All-Ireland final against Kerry, so I was able to get through it. And it was really personally rewarding for me to just turn it around in such a short space of time, with the backs up against the wall. There was great satisfaction in just getting out on the pitch in the first instance and then to win the game as well.”
And thus share that honour of being one of only three players to start all five successful finals.
“That probably is something to be proud of, all right, having picked up my fair share of injuries over the last number of years, no more than anyone else. I know in 2011, I missed the whole campaign and I wasn’t back fit until a couple of weeks before the quarter-final. It just worked out perfectly for me that season that I was able to get fit for then, I was firing, very hungry and ambitious. “