Journey from the smallest club in Meath to becoming a senior county soccer player, your county’s top scorer in the best period of a decade, and an All-timer -Star.
Or a driver returning from Waterford alone in the depths of winter, shrouded in darkness, your mind confused, your ambitions clear, after being told your inter-county career is over end.
The wounds and battle scars that dot Mickey Newman’s body are like a map of his career.
Hip flexor tear, hamstring tear, ankle surgery, elbow surgery, two hip surgeries.
He’s 31 years old now, and just over three weeks ago he announced his Meath journey was over.
Even when his mind is not ready to warm up, his body is still withdrawing.
Truth be told, the brief farewell message he posted on social media was both to let himself know he was retiring and to inform anyone else.
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“I won’t really be the one to announce everything, but I want to finish,” Newman told SunSport.
“Because in my head I started thinking again, ‘Maybe I can do it’. The mind begins to wonder.”
He did it for longer than is medically thought possible. Or encourage. Newman started showing up in 2013 – strong, good hands, better legs. His laser-like precision from placed balls makes him an important weapon in Meath’s artillery.
He scored 1-27 in his first championship campaign, ending the season as the country’s overall third top scorer. He received an All-Star nomination later that year and was named Meath Footballer of the Year.
“It was a crazy year, I was 22 years old and I knew I needed to make a breakthrough,” he recalls.
“I wasn’t injured, probably one of the only years I played in the interdistrict where I didn’t have surgery or tear my hamstring.”
Injury is a frequent passenger accompanying him throughout his career. But mentally and physically difficult, he constantly struggled with setbacks, forever hoping this would be the last.
Then, in December 2019, the drawbridge was pulled up.
That winter he had surgery for a broken elbow, and while rehab, Newman decided to have his hip examined.
“I’ve had problems for a while, sitting for long periods of time, even standing for long periods of time, getting in and out of the car – all of that used to be hell,” he said.
However, when he drove down to Waterford to see a hip specialist, Dr Patrick Carton, he was still unprepared for the prognosis. Each word was like a knife stabbing into his temporal plexus, sucking his soul, breaking his heart.
“It was a Tuesday, and I drove myself down, waited three hours, got inside, he took a scan, came back and pretty much said, ‘I’m not going to play interdistrict anymore,’” Newman recalls. that’s basically it. , the destruction has ended.’
“Then he asked me if I hoped to continue playing with my club. I said I did. He asked how long, I said 40 years old anyway. But he replied, “You’ve had about two years with your club”.
“It’s confusing, how can it suddenly end? The drive home is tough, there’s a lot going on in your head. ”
Newman has an orange-and-pint deformity. “Basically bone grows out of its socket and ball, they just hit the cartilage and tear the cartilage up,” he explains.
“So the cartilage on one side of my hip is gone, and you can’t grow it back. All they can do is scrape it down so the ball can move as freely as possible. ”
He didn’t sleep much that night, and the days that followed were hazy.
Newman, a teacher at the school in Skryne, said: ‘All I wanted to do was play with Meath, that’s all I ever wanted to do.
“You just feel that you haven’t gotten a fair share of it with different injuries over the years, and then when you’re nailed with this – that’s the last thing when a surgeon The art of sitting in front of you and saying, ‘No more, this is not good for you’. “
But within a few days, he had arranged to speak with Meath’s doctor and the team doctor, he also called former players Shane O’Rourke and Kevin Reilly, both of whom had undergone medical conditions. similar hip surgery.
“The two boys were so nice to me, they talked to me about it,” Newman said. They were able to return to play. “
So a plan was hatched. And the drawbridge was pushed back.
He underwent surgery on January 17, 2020 and is determined to continue playing.
Doctors advised him it might be 12 months before he needed surgery on his remaining hip. Newman’s recovery went well and that summer he helped his club, Kilmainham, reach the semi-finals of the middleweight championship.
He said: “I had a great year with the club but as it went on the pain started to come and I played badly at the end of the club championship.
“So then I have to grip or twist, because the grain is starting.”
He came back, but it only lasted one night. “I called Andy the next day and told him ‘No, I’m gone, I can’t do it’,” Newman recalls. It wasn’t even a hard workout, only doing about seven or eight kilometers, but I couldn’t walk after that.
“I knew I would have to have another surgery. I said my goodbyes to the boys, and thought, ‘That’s the end for me’. But I’ll still see how I feel after the second surgery. ”
On January 29, 2021, Newman underwent surgery again.
This is the second hip surgery in 12 months, and the fourth in two years. He was told it would take three to six months to recover. On 30 May, he came on from the bench and scored 4 points against Mayo in Meath’s 2nd division. He’s back, again.
But there will be no fairy tale ending.
Coming off the bench in the Royals’ Leinster quarter-final win over Longford, Newman believes he is certain to come off the bench against Dublin in the semi-final.
He said: “At the beginning of the year I always thought I was going to have another crack, I could see that we were getting closer to Dublin.
“So I came back and finally got to the stage where I was fit, flying and scoring freely. But in the end I’m not used to Dublin, which is very disappointing. That was hard to overcome, still very difficult to overcome. ”
Andy McEntee introduced five subs against Dublin, three in the previous quarter when Meath had Dubs on the wire. But the call never came. And Dublin won.
“I knew it was my last roll of the dice,” he recalls. All the chatter in the weeks before that suggested I had a bigger part to play.
“I was completely gutted, to end up like that as an unused sub after coming back from activities.”
When the final whistle blew, he stepped down to the sideline to join his family.
Outside, the drawbridge moved to the sky again. Newman made a total of 72 appearances for Meath senior players, scoring in 69 of them.
He had a personal total of 25-272, with 17-67 coming from the match. For nearly a decade, despite his injury problems, Newman fueled the Royals attack.
But while the journey never leads to the steps of the Hogan Stand, there are moments that will stay with him forever. And he has a shirt number to remind him of.
Newman smiled: “I have all of Meath’s shirt numbers – I only traded one shirt.
“I gave away one or two to charity, but I have all the rest. My mom kept every single jersey I ever wore for Meath – and that was from the Under-14s and up. ”
One thing that’s different is Derry’s number 14 shirt, which he swapped out after Meath’s 2016 championship loss at Owenbeg.
“I was a bit caught off guard, I got off early so I was a bit frustrated or whatever when he came and asked,” Newman said. So, Emmet McGuckin is the owner of a collector – a rarely spotted Mickey Newman Meath jersey.
Newman added: “I’ve been successful, I’ve worked really hard to get Meath’s shirt, I don’t really want to swap it out. I don’t see the bottom line. ”
The road ahead is now paved in the red and black of Kilmainham.
The Newman family is the mainstay of the club, located in a small town on the outskirts of Kells. It is a proud and defiant club.
The two-year period he was given by the documents to complete his club is now up.
But there were still shorts and football socks in the wash, boots in the bag and fire in his stomach.
He said: “I will play until I am 40 years old. At Kilmainham, minors are not strong so what we do is rule you don’t retire – we extend the retirement age for players to 40!
“Ah, no matter what ability I can play, I will continue.”
Journeys? It continued.
https://www.thesun.ie/sport/gaa-football/8285817/mickey-newman-meath-injuries-gaa-career/ Meath star Mickey Newman reflects on injuries and battle scars that ended a high-scoring career among counties with the Royals