GAA Football

Conor Meyler: I played in the All-Ireland final just four weeks after breaking tibia

BAD BREAK: Conor Meyler is helped off the MacCumhaill Park pitch after fracturing his tibia against Donegal last month. The Omagh man recovered to line out in Sunday’s All-Ireland final defeat to Dublin. Picture: Seamus Loughran 
Francis Mooney

Conor Meyler has revealed that he played in the All-Ireland final just four weeks after suffering a broken tibia.

The Tyrone attacker’s remarkable powers of recovery from what should have been a season-ending injury saw him make a dramatic return to win back his starting place for Sunday’s clash with Dublin.

Meyler sustained the injury in the closing stages of the Super 8s tie against Donegal on August 5.

He missed the All-Ireland semi-final win over Monaghan, but kept the extent of the damage a closely guarded secret, claiming at the time that it was merely a case of heavy bruising.

But behind the scenes, the Omagh man had embarked on a mission to defy medical opinion and advice, and got himself ready to return to full training within three weeks of a serious lower leg injury, which should have taken at least 12 weeks to heal.

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“It was a big setback against Donegal, I actually fractured my tibia. Nobody gave me a chance. I was told my season was over,” he said.

“I could have been out for 12 weeks, and I managed to be back in three, to give myself a chance to play in an All-Ireland final, which was a dream come true.

“Now we’re going to have to look to next year to finish the job off and try and make that dream a wee bit sweeter.”

Meyler trained as often as four times a day in his frantic attempts to get himself ready to fulfil his boyhood dream and play a part in the GAA’s showpiece occasion, and he was drafted into the starting line-up in a late pre-match change.

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“It was a lot of hard work. Every hour in every day counted. Thankfully the county board, the Tyrone physios and the club physios were there to help me, to give me whatever it takes to get back.

“If I wasn’t going to get back it wasn’t going to be for a lack of effort on my behalf, training three or four times a day to try and get there.

“To stand in Croke Park on All-Ireland final day is what you grow up as a wee boy dreaming about, and that thought in the back of my head helped me get there.

“So in one sense I’ll take that as a positive, along with the massive disappointment of the result.”

Despite his super-human efforts to recover and regain match fitness, Meyler was never going to last the 80-odd minutes of a high tempo Sam Maguire Cup decider, particularly due to his demanding, all-action role.

He was replaced early in the second half by a more offensive player, Lee Brennan, as Tyrone were forced into all-out attack in an effort to rescue a game that was slipping away from them.

“It was just the way the game was as well, we probably needed more men on the attacking front to try and see the game out. My job was slightly different, so changes were made for the benefit of the team, and I accept that, and everyone accepts that.

“On the day, for us boys, it’s not about individual headlines, it’s about the result, it doesn’t matter how we get there, as long as we get there.”

The 23-year-old is convinced Tyrone can come back and claim the Sam Maguire Cup, ending the dominance of a magnificent Dublin side that won a record-equalling fourth successive All-Ireland title with a seven points win.

“These things always seem impossible until they’re done, and at least we know that this task isn’t impossible, reaching an All-Ireland final, and getting over the line is not an impossible task at all.

“I think we know ourselves what let us down and we have to look at that and try and improve. If every man can improve that five of ten per cent, individually, collectively, get fitter, faster, stronger, we’ll be a better team overall.

“It’s a massive setback from where we thought we were going to be. We’re just going to have to try and regroup now, get closer than we were before.”


Tyrone's Conor Meyler in action against Dublin in the All-Ireland Football Championship quarter-final. Picture: Philip Walsh

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