BY KIERAN McCARTHY
THOMAS Clancy is eager to make up for lost time.
For both county and club, 2015 was a season to forget.
While an ankle injury dogged Clancy’s campaign, Clonakilty slipped to the brink of senior football relegation and Cork’s championship season ended in turmoil after a shock exit to Kildare in July.
But it’s a new year, and the Clonakilty man (23) is looking to the future – the immediate future and his ongoing rehab from that ankle injury that cast a dark shadow over last season.
Clancy went over awkwardly on his ankle in the Cork SFC round two defeat (2-15 to 0-10) against O’Donovan Rossa last May in Rosscarbery – an injury that compounded an already depressing day.
He knew instantly he was in trouble. He was right. An MRI scan showed that he had damaged his ligaments and bruised bones in his ankle, and its movement was restricted.
‘I was playing in pain until I got an injection at the end of July,’ explained Clancy.
‘I went back to play in the St Nick’s match in June but I had done absolutely no training. The ankle wasn’t right but I got through the pain. After that I tried to go back with Cork but I was training in pain so I decided to stop and go further about it to get it sorted.’
Specialists in Dublin broke the news to Clancy that he needed surgery to sort out his troublesome ankle, but with Clonakilty in a scrap for their senior football survival, he decided to play through the pain barrier.
Was it worth it? Of course it was, the former Cork minor and U21 says. Clon survived. On top of that the club’s junior hurlers won the South West JAHC, and Clancy played his way onto the very first Carbery GAA All-Star Junior Hurling team.
At the awards night in the Westlodge Hotel, Clancy was on crutches after ankle surgery, and now he is targeting his comeback in a few weeks.
‘I had the surgery at the end of November. I am working away with the physio these weeks. Hopefully, I’ll be running in about two weeks’ time. I have to wait until I get the range back in the ankle before I even start thinking about running, so we have to see how that goes,’ said the Kinsale Community School teacher of metalwork and technical graphics.
These days he’s keeping on top of his rehab work and cardio sessions as he closes in on a return to both club and county – he is hoping to be back in action for the national league at some stage in February.
‘Once I get back playing again the plan is to get in a few games with Clon first because I will be a bit off the pace. Once I am up to speed, hopefully I’ll be back in with Cork and we’ll take it from there,’ Clancy said, and he added that’s he’s eager to get stuck in with Cork and show new manager Peadar Healy what he’s all about.
‘When a new manager comes in it’s a fresh start for every player. That’s how all the players will look at this – it’s a chance for everyone to show what they can do. I want to get back in there as quickly as I can, put the head down and do as well as I can.
‘I’m 23 now but the years go by fairly fast. I don’t want to be waiting until next year or the year after to nail down a place, I want to make a big impact this year and show what I can do.’
Clancy is earmarking a couple of league games with Clonakilty – when the ankle gets the green light – to help him on his road to recovery. With Paul Holland the new man in charge of Clon, Clancy is confident bigger and better things lie ahead of the West Cork cub but it’s under one condition: that all the players put the hard graft in.
‘Last year was a big wake-up call. Before we knew it we were in a relegation final. If we had lost that we would have been down to intermediate. I know that relegations were reversed later in the year but we didn’t know that at the time, so there was a lot of pressure on,’ Clancy said.
‘This year we’ve a new manager in place but it’s up the players to put in the work. You can have everything put in place but if the players don’t put in the work then you are wasting your time. We have a good underage structure and the U21s have been winning West Cork titles but we haven’t made a real impression at senior level in four or five years. It’s time to change that. We know where we are at the moment – we’re down the bottom in terms of ranking senior teams, so we’ve a lot of ground to make up. We don’t want a repeat of last year.’
Clancy has also ventured into the world of nutrition of late, as a Herbalife Wellness Coach – ‘I am interested in healthy eating and about getting the right nutrition into the body,’ he explained – so it’s already shaping up as a busy year for the Clon man on and off the field.