Savannah McCarthy on overcoming ACL fear and revelling in 7 hour round trips to training

Savannah McCarthy on overcoming ACL fear and revelling in 7 hour round trips to training
Alanna Cunnane
Alanna Cunnane

Shamrock Rovers star Savannah McCarthy may be over the moon to overcome her biggest fear in an ACL injury, but she’s keeping her feet firmly planted to the ground back home in Kerry.

The centre back from Listowel returned to the Ireland squad this week under the interim management of Eileen Gleeson, marking the first time she’s done so since she picked up her long term knee injury back in March 2022.

She slowly returned to football action in April of this year. That meant she only narrowly missed out on the World Cup squad selection, primarily due to fitness given she was becoming a stakeholder at the back for the Girls In Green before her injury, alongside Niamh Fahey and Louise Quinn.

"I knew time would be a factor," she says, speaking at a media event yesterday in preparation for the Republic of Ireland’s game versus Northern Ireland on Saturday.


"It wasn't easy. My first game back was at the end of April, those were my first few minutes. At the start of that you've got to build your way back up to 90 minutes.

"I'd a few 90 minutes under my belt before the squad was announced but it was just a little bit too soon. Yeah it was tough, but I was delighted for all the girls that were there."


Savannah McCarthy- to Kerry and back

Explaining that the “one percents every single day” during recovery accumulated to her come-back on the pitch, when you hear about just how much went into that process there’s no doubt that commitment has now tallied right up at 100%.

Still living at home in Kerry for the moment, the 26 year old didn’t dive into a move to Dublin when she signed for Women’s Premier Division newcomers Shamrock Rovers, instead waiting to see how things played out “day by day” with the injury recovery first.

When Rovers got in contact with me I was obviously coming back from injury, so for them as well it was probably a bit of a risk thinking what way am I going to come back and what way am I going to be playing" she says.

"It was a case of, I didn't know what way I was going to be so I didn't want to commit too soon about moving up to Dublin, not knowing if I was going to be playing. I wanted to be 100%, that I was playing games and back to myself.

“At the minute I’m still in Kerry, and I’m still doing the trip. I'm used to it, I've done it my whole life.

"It's around three hours and 20 minutes. I do it three days a week. At the start, when I was coming back [from injury], I'd be doing it four days.”

Smiling in mentioning that “people look at you like you're crazy” when she talks of her three times weekly seven hour round trip to Tallaght, McCarthy herself instead frames the journey differently in her head, perhaps giving an insight into the psychology of the person player more than anything else. 

“It's actually some time to myself, that journey. I play some podcasts and listen to a bit of music, and look forward to the session."

Revelling in every opportunity to play football now in her return, her self description as a player clearly equates to her mindset as a person too.

I’m all for a good challenge” she says.

There’s absolutely no doubt about that.

The Republic of Ireland play Northern Ireland in the Aviva Stadium this Saturday at one o’clock, opening their Nations League campaign in style with their inaugural match at the home of Irish Football.

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