BY KIERAN McCARTHY
CORK football’s loss is the AFL’s gain as Ciarán Sheehan’s future lies with Carlton Blues in Australia.
The former Cork footballer and Éire Óg club man made his first senior appearance for Carlton since 2014 in their 12-point loss to Adelaide last weekend.
After struggling in recent seasons with hip, hamstring and knee injuries, Sheehan (26) is flying fit at the moment and ready to make an impact with Carlton.
To highlight his progression he has been placed on the club’s senior list, being upgraded from the rookie list to take the place of the injured Andrew Phillips.
‘The club is in a really good place at the minute. I always wanted to be a part of where the club is going. Hopefully I can stick around and see where it does go. I know the club is capable of getting to the highest level, that’s what we are all striving for,’ Sheehan said.
‘I was excited to get out there (last Saturday against Adelaide), it was a long time coming, I worked pretty hard with all the coaching staff, the physio staff and the high performance staff, to get my body where it needed to be.
‘I was just very grateful to get the opportunity to go out and play with the lads. Disappointing result but we’ll have a look and see where we go from here.’
Sheehan impressed in pre-season for the Northern Blues, the Victorian Football League team that is affiliated with Carlton, and so got his chance on the interchange bench at the MCG against Adelaide – his first AFL game since August 30th, 2014.
The mid-Cork native, regarded as one of Cork football’s top talents before he left for Oz in 2013, is hopeful his injury problems are behind him, admitting it hasn’t been all plain sailing.
‘I had some difficult times,’ he said.
‘I’ve always said that I am very lucky to have a good support network around me, my girlfriend Amy at home, all the lads inside in the club, the coaching staff. It’s like a second home for me out here, the footy club.
‘I am very fortunate with the people I have met, they have got me through some very difficult times.
‘I always wanted to be back playing AFL, that was always the goal, I had my mind on that and lucky enough I got the opportunity (on Saturday).’
On his injury problems, Sheehan added: ‘I sustained a few injuries, prolonged them a bit, I was getting close and then pushed back again. It was quite frustrating but eventually I got the surgeries and got the hip sorted. Unfortunately the knee pulled up and I had to go for surgery for that. It’s all in the past at this stage, I am happy to be out there and hopefully I can stay out there for as long as I can.’