O’Gara amazed he was marked after injury in All-Ireland final
'I was on the ground, nobody cared about me. I just had to soldier on and hope we’d get over the line'
Dublin’s Eoghan O’Gara and Keith Higgins of Mayo compete for the ball in last year’s All-Ireland football final, before O’Gara’s 53rd-minute hamstring injury left him a virtual passenger for the remainder of the match. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho
The twice All-Ireland medallist was speaking at the headquarters of the Irish Blood Transfusion Service where he was launching a drive for more donors with fellow players Tony Kelly (Clare), Anna Geary (Cork) and Laura McEnaney (Monaghan).
He also recalled he hadn’t been aware that Dublin, who won the final by a point, had used all of their replacements by the time he was injured, in the 53rd minute, having himself replaced the injured Paul Mannion as early as the 16th minute and having gone on to have a significant impact on the match, kicking two points from play and forcing the relocation of Keith Higgins, who had been going strongly for Mayo at centre forward to mark him.
“Yeah, I sprinted out for a ball and I felt it pop. I’d done it before so I knew straight away it was the hamstring. I was kind of hoping it wouldn’t have been as bad as it was; when I started trying to move then again. It was gone. I knew it was gone. So it was a case of just trying to get the physio on to strap it.
“I actually thought we had a substitution left, so I gestured to take me off. It’s the last thing you want to be doing in an All-Ireland final, 15 minutes to go, asking to be coming off.
“But I found out we had no subs (left) so it was kind of soldier on . . . I was told to stay on the end line!”
The injury happened during the lead-up to Dublin’s second goal and wasn’t initially noticed.
“I was on the ground, nobody cared about me. I just had to soldier on and hope we’d get over the line.”
Had he been expecting his marker to leave him? “I was yeah, but he didn’t. Keith Higgins . . . maybe he thought I was codding him, whatever.”
O’Gara has been plagued by injury more or less any time his career has threatened to take off and at 28, he’s anxious to secure a starting place on the All-Ireland champions’ team this year, which starts in familiar fashion with a race to rehab from an elbow operation in time for the first league match against Kerry next month.
“I’m never satisfied coming in from the line. You want to be getting a one to 15 jersey. That’s always my target but it doesn’t always work out that way.”