Hannah McMillan now eyeing glory after fearing for her career
Hannah McMillan is just glad to be playing hockey these days after recovering from a career-threatening injury as Pegasus prepare to tackle Railway Union in the EY Irish Hockey League Champions Trophy semi-finals at Havelock Park on Saturday.
Two and a half years ago, she feared her playing days were over after suffering a cruciate knee injury when playing for Queen's against Lurgan.
The 27-year old forward collided with an opponent and was left screaming in pain after hearing a 'pop' which she knew indicated serious damage.
"I was stretchered off and taken to hospital where I was wrongly told that it was only my collateral ligament and that I should be okay in six weeks," she recalled.
"My sisters Ruth and Rachael had both torn their anterior cruciate ligament before me and from my symptoms and the fact that I had felt the 'pop', I knew I needed a specialist opinion.
"I saw a physio, an orthopaedic surgeon and had an MRI scan and it was then confirmed that I had completely ruptured the ACL in my right knee and surgery was my only option.
"It was one of the toughest periods of my life both physically and mentally. The rehab was extremely difficult and painful and I had to learn to trust my knee again.
"I was out of action for around 10 months but obviously my fitness had taken a massive blow, so it was around a year before I felt I could compete on the pitch again.
"I feared I would never play again but both of my sisters had been through the same thing and were back playing, so I was hopeful, but I was scared that I would not be the same player again and so I am extremely thankful that I am still able to play."
Hannah will therefore put Saturday's game in perspective considering what she has been through but she would love to be on the winning side and take part in Sunday's final against either Hermes or Ulster Elks with the overall winners earning a place in Europe next season.
"Unfortunately during the league campaign, the results didn't go our way against Railway Union but we know we were the makers of our own misfortune so we will go out on Saturday to make amends and obviously we hope to make it to the final," she added.
Ulster Elks, who qualified for the finals weekend by retaining the Irish Senior Cup, will start as underdogs against Hermes, who easily won the title in the regulation season, especially as they are still without Ireland's most-capped player Shirley McKay, who is recovering from a badly broken finger.
In the curtain-raiser for Sunday's final, Belfast Harlequins face UCC needing a win to take the Cork students' place in next season's IHL, although there is a possibility of a change of date due to exams and wedding commitments.