Injured Tyrone stalwart Donnelly optimistic about prolonging playing career

By Niall Gartland

INJURED Trillick and Tyrone stalwart Mattie Donnelly will discover this coming Wednesday whether surgery will be required for a long-term injury that has ruled him out for the rest of the season.

The two-time All-Star tore the posterior cruciate ligament in his knee and suffered a broken tibia while playing for Trillick at the Kilmacud Crokes tournament on the weekend of the All-Ireland final in July.

Donnelly was a familiar sight on the sidelines throughout the Tyrone Club Championship, sporting a full leg brace and delivering words of encouragement and advice as his club Trillick embarked on a memorable journey to their ninth ever senior triumph.

While it’s a particularly serious injury, Donnelly remains optimistic that he will be able to return to the field of play for Tyrone, although the rate of his return could be dependent on whether he requires surgery or not.

Speaking this week, Mattie said: “I haven’t looked past Wednesday. My priority is to get the knee to a place where I’m confident that I can play and push out another few years of my career,” he said.

“At the end of that, if I feel I can add value to Tyrone, then it’s definitely something I would like to do.

“But at the same time, I don’t want to be going back sore and in a place where I can’t contribute the way I would like to.

“It’s very much still in the air, and it’s very much something that as a priority, I want to look after my body and get my body healthy and back to a good level where I can play for another few years at a high level.

“That was the advice of the knee consultant. I’m progressing well, I’m in the brace now 12 weeks, and I’m in for a scan on Wednesday to see if they can remove the brace and proceed without surgery. That will tell a tale.

“Surgery is still not off the table, but I’m positive that I can proceed without it.”

While there’s no set date for his return to action, Donnelly says the best case scenario is that he’ll be back in time for Tyrone’s National League campaign in Division One.

“I can’t read too much past Wednesday, because that’s going to determine what the next course of action is.

“All being well, with no surgery, it’s very much take the brace off and start to build back towards a full return to play, and that could be, they’re saying, around February, March.

“And that’s not rushing it, so at this stage that’s probably the approach I’ll be taking and looking at.”

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