Two years out . . . now Down star Liam is back
It is doubtful if any Ulster county player, with the possible exception of Derry’s Enda Muldoon, has endured more injury agony in recent years than long-serving Down defender Liam Doyle.
The Liatroim Fontenoys clubman suffered a serious cruciate ligament injury in 2008 during Down’s defeat by Armagh in the Ulster semi-final, having missed all of the previous season because of an ankle injury.
Now after a two-year fight to get fully fit, Doyle is back in the Down frame and has more reason than most for hoping to see action in the Dr McKenna Cup.
When he played for 10 minutes against Louth in a challenge game at Haggardstown last Sunday, it was his first taste of inter-county action since that fateful Ulster semi-final.
But Doyle’s battling qualities and strength of character have stood to him.
He has successfully followed a lengthy rehabilitation programme and is easing his way back into top-flight action.
“Obviously Down did superbly last year to reach the All Ireland final and I would love to have been part of that team. But I am focussed on the future now — 2011 is a new year and obviously my greatest wish is to stay injury-free,” says Doyle.
Prior to 2007, he suffered hamstring and quad injuries which also disrupted his county career but Doyle is just keen to see Down go one step further this year.
“He has shown great spirit and strength of character by coming back.
“His commitment to Down is there for all to see. We are all keeping our fingers crossed for him that he will have a big role to play this year,” says Down chairman Seamus Walsh.
Wing-back Conor Garvey will miss the early part of the season because of injury. Injury had threatened to keep him out of Down’s opening championship match against Donegal but he recovered just in time.
Unfortunate Enda Muldoon suffered a broken foot on no less than three occasions within the past three years, having previously been a victim of cruciate and hamstring injuries.