Waterford’s Pauric Mahony on the steady road to full recovery

Missing the championship campaign a cruel blow for Déise’s top scorer

Pauric Mahony starts describing the dangling leg bone, the makeshift splint, the gasps of despair and the profound misery in such gruesome detail that even Stephen King would be impressed: Hurling; and other horror stories.

Only Mahony's pain and horror was less to do with the actual leg injury than the realisation his season was over, and that Waterford, fresh from winning only a third ever league title, would be deprived of their most prolific scorer for the entire championship.

Now, eight weeks later, he’s come to terms with his misfortune, although he hasn’t yet had the stomach to watch video footage of the game where, playing for his club Ballygunner, Mahony went down after a seemingly innocuous clash.

He still has the image in his head, of seeing his right shin bone in a place it shouldn’t be, and yet speaking for the first time about the incident, it’s more about looking forward, not back.


The crutches

“Another four weeks on the crutches and I should be back walking,” says Mahony, speaking at the launch of the GPA’s ‘Fair Play Campaign’.

“It was just one of those things, going through with the ball, the full back came out, and maybe I turned to try to take a shoulder, opened my leg up, then he came through. It was a nasty enough sight then.

“My leg was hanging to one side, but I was fortunate that Tadhg O’Sullivan, the surgeon from Ballygunner, was at the game. He came on and popped the leg back in, then made a splint, with two hurls and towels. So I was straight into a splint. That probably saved me a lot of time, and pain, as well. And with the adrenaline, at the time meant, I didn’t feel him popping the leg back in.

“I knew on impact it was broken. So I was in a daze, on the ground, and there was loads of commotion going on above me, as the players reacted. They were nearly worse than me. One fella thought I had a cramp, and was going to grab my leg, then he looked down, saw the leg, and he quickly ran away.

“And hearing what people were saying, in the stand, that was the worst part, seeing other players’ reaction. They thought it was my head, first, the way I went down and I stayed still. But I knew if I moved it I could do worse damage.”

His brother Philip, also playing, was one of the first over to him and his family were also watching from the stand.

“People were coming in off the sideline, and ’. Literally, pain was the last thing on my mind. It was the fact that we were on such a high after winning the league the week before. It was only on the way to the hospital I started to feel any pain. The adrenaline eased off. But look, that’s the way it goes. It could have happened walking down the road and you have to take it as it is.”

Mahony now has a steel rod running through his right shin bone, and his recovery is bang on schedule. But it will be 2016 before he returns to hurling. By then he might have found the stomach to watch the video footage of the incident.

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics