Both the Connaught Telegraph (here) and the Irish Independent (here) have now confirmed the news that will have already filtered through to many of you this morning, which is that midfielder Matthew Ruane broke his collarbone in training yesterday evening.
No matter how you dress this up, it’s a massive, massive blow for us. First and foremost, of course, for Mattie himself who enjoyed a wonderful breakthrough League campaign this year and whose power and pace at midfield brought an exciting new dimension to our play. It’s a sickening setback for him, as it’s an injury which is likely to rule him out for the summer.
It’s also a hammer blow for us ahead of another daunting tilt at the qualifiers. Last year injuries to key players proved fatal to our hopes of making it through the backdoor and we can ill afford history repeating itself this summer. We’ll never be accused of too much good luck on that front, that’s for sure.
A certain starter for us in Páirc Esler, Mattie’s absence now creates a vacancy that needs filling. Diarmuid O’Connor is the obvious candidate, with a shift to the middle for him facilitating a rejig that could also see big brother Cillian making a much overdue return to the starting fifteen.
With Seamus O’Shea and Donal Vaughan also coming back into the reckoning, we’re not devoid of options in the middle of the park, though we’ve nobody who can provide the kind of spark that the Breaffy man gave to us in the sector this spring.
A less obvious candidate in this respect might possibly be Mikey Murray. It would certainly be a baptism of fire for the young Stephenites player to be pitched in at the deep end in Newry but needs must and all that. We simply have to roll with the punches and do what we can to put the strongest possible team on the pitch the next day.
Best wishes to Mattie on his recovery – here’s hoping he’s back to his dashing best as soon as possible.