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Antrim can turn it around in Carlow says injured Graffin

Antrim's Arron Gaffin is carried off the field at Cusack Park, Mullingar
Picture: Séamus Loughran.
Andy Watters

ARRON Graffin is confident Antrim’s hurlers will save their season against Carlow in 10 days’ time.

However, the Cushendall defender will miss the crucial Leinster Championship clash and could be out for up to five months after he dislocated his knee against Westmeath last Sunday.

He said the pain he felt was “ridiculous” when he landed awkwardly early in the game at Cusack Park. Antrim team doctor Mark Salters was able to put the kneecap back into its socket and Graffin was grateful for his swift actions and glad that an ambulance was on stand-by to take him to hospital.

“I landed and the pain was instant – it was ridiculous, I’ve never experienced anything like it,” said Ruairi Og skipper Graffin.

“I got it (the kneecap) put back in on the pitch, it took two goes to get it back in. Dr Mark Salters knew what he was at straight away. God knows what would have been the case if he wasn’t there.

“It just shows how important it is to have the ambulance crew there and the doctor there. I’m very thankful. It’s a credit to the GAA that the medical guys are on the sideline.”

Graffin hopes to be back in the saffron jersey “later in the year” but he has ruled out playing a part in the season-defining round robin clash against Carlow at Cullen Park on May 24. A win will keep Antrim in the Leinster series, but defeat could see them drop into the second tier Christy Ring competition.

“I’ve got over the initial shock of it – I’m in a full leg cast so I’ll take it from here,” said Graffin.

“I’m in the early stages of it, I have to go and get another examination in a couple of weeks to see has it settled down because it’s flared up at the minute.

“We can rule out the Carlow game but I’ve had a lot of support from the team and people around home so that’ll drive me on to get back flying fit come the summer.

“My phone was red-hot from I got it back in my hand.

“Private messages, tweets, texts, everything. I’m very grateful to everyone for their support and I’m just sad that I’m not there for the Carlow game but I hope I’ll be featuring later on in the year.”

For Graffin to have a chance of playing at inter-county level again this year his team-mates will need to find the consistency that has eluded them. Manager Kevin Ryan has been at a loss to explain why form in training hasn’t been translated into performances in competition.

Graffin agrees that Antrim aren’t doing themselves justice on the field but added that his injury played a part in their lacklustre performance last Sunday.

“We’re a lot closer to Westmeath than that score (1-21 to 0-7) suggests,” he said.

“I know it must have been a massive shock to the guys seeing me lying there and it would take longer than 10 or 15 minutes to get over it. On another day I think we would fancy ourselves against Westmeath.

“There’s a lot of potential in the team and a lot of young players have been brought in in the last couple of months. It’ll pay off eventually.

“Confidence was high coming out of the Laois game and we went down to Westmeath thinking ‘anything’s possible here’. We’re disappointed with the result but with the shoulder to the wheel that team can push on in the summer.”

He’s on crutches for the first time in his life but that won’t stop him making the journey to Carlow to cheer on Antrim on May 24.

“The boys will be ready for it and I’ll be there supporting them 100 per cent,” he said.

“I think they’ll turn it around.”

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