I wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that my life flashed in front of my eyes. For a second I thought it was all over. The pain in my ankle was excruciating, far worse than childbirth. I couldn’t even feel my toes but then I never can reach down that far. The physio came running over and told me to act like I was playing for Mayo – I said how do you mean – he said ‘don’t move’. At least my hair was relatively okay though there was a small piece of the crown out of place as the gel had worn out from sticking my face and head in the towel like all basketballers do.
Thankfully I was still able to give high fives and all that to my team mates as they came over to see if I was alright. If you are a basketballer and can’t give high fives, low fives and fist bumps you are at nothing. Myself and Cillian introduced some of these moves into the Mayo dressing room last year but the lack of co-ordination among the lads meant it was a disaster. Four of them broke fingers and we had a lot of bruised knuckles cases so we gave it up. Donal said basketball was a very rough game - turns out he was right.
Anyways Mammy was out having tea with the other Mammies and she came bursting into the gym like Rambo on steroids shouting ‘who hurt my boy?!’. I went very red and told her I just twisted my ankle myself and she said it couldn’t be my fault. She said the court must have been wet and I slipped. She’s great.
Daddy came in then and said ‘you feckin’ eejit I told you not to play that girls’ game’ and Mammy told him to shut up unless he wanted to spend an hour trying to get out of a metal hoop. Everyone was laughing – except Daddy. Mammy said to ring an ambulance – Daddy said to ring a solicitor. I said I didn’t want any fuss so one of the lad’s Dads was going by in a tractor and I hopped on the trailer as he was going by the hospital. I started going – nee naw nee naw – it was gas craic.
When I got to the hospital my worst fears came through. I heard the doctor say to Mammy he’d have to put me down. ‘What??’said Mammy roaring, ‘Why??’. ‘Because he’s too heavy’ the doctor said. So that was a relief. But it turned out I was right about how serious the injury was. He said it was a minute inflammation of the stabilizing lateral ligaments of the ankle joint.
I bit my lip, trying to be brave and holding back the tears, and said to him, ‘Doc, give it to me straight – I want the blunt truth’. ‘Ok’ he said, ‘it’s a very slight ankle sprain and you should not put full weight on it for a couple of days’. I was devastated. Shamie and Conor had arrived by now and fair play to Shamie he was straight in, ‘Doc, can we not even play jockeybacks?’. The doc gave him a funny look, up and down, and said ‘If I was a crane I wouldn’t play jockeybacks with you.’ Daddy snorted but nobody else knew what he was saying.
It was then I saw the moon boot in the corner. ‘Can I have that?’ I asked the doc. ‘Sure you’ve only a bloody light sprain,’ he said. ‘That‘s for someone with a real injury like medial ligaments or a broken leg.’ But fair play to Mammy she wasn’t having it. ‘If my Aidan thinks he needs that strap on contraption then he’s having it. And it looks great too and it’s grey – his colour. Put it on there son.’
So off I went in me moon boot – the Michael Jackson boot Shamie said. He reckoned I’d be able to moon walk in it once my critical long term injury cleared up the next day. We sang Billie Jean all the way home – it was great.
The basketball team is EJs All Stars and are actually from Sligo which I originally thought was in Mayo! Then I remembered we played them in Gaelic a couple of years back when I ran amok scoring 3-4 or something. I was on fire that day and even Andy said to me I was always great against Division 4 teams. I was chuffed. It reminded me of the time I played for the U12s when I was 16 – I got 3-5 that day and squashed a few small lads. Some craic.
Anyhow the lads in the club were very disappointed that I wouldn’t make the Cup Final in Tallaght. I was glad to not be going to be honest and was horrified when they insisted I come along as part of the squad. An overgrown mascot Daddy said - before Mammy spilt her tea on him. I didn’t fancy Tallaght much at all but figured if I had a moon boot no-one would rob me. I also had Dermo’s Dublin jersey on under my own just in case. And I was muttering bleedin, jaysus, story bud and other phrases to myself all the way up.
We were playing Neptune in the President’s Cup Final and I said to Diarmaid it was my first time coming up against a Greek god. Roman he said – whatever that meant. We were introduced to a man called Michael D at the start and I worked out he must be the President of the basketball association – like Aogan Ó Fearghaíl is for Gaelic. But he was quite small for a basketballer – maybe he had a good leap.
They lost by 97-85 and I said to the lads in the dressing room after that I reckon I was worth 14 points to the team so we would have won if I played. They just look at me for ages and then started shaking their heads to signal I was right. You’re a peculiar genius alright the manager said. I told them I’d been in losing All Ireland final dressing rooms loads of times so this was not new to me and that after about 8 pints everyone would feel better.
I also pointed out that just because you were a bit of a loser (I was careful to say bit) didn’t mean you couldn’t be a celebrity. I took out my Gold Card from Copper’s and starting singing ‘here we go, here we go’ but they all just walked out. I could never understand basketballers to be honest – must be the personal fouls and all but they get very touchy sometimes. I hate to say Daddy was right but maybe he wasn’t fully wrong.
I also had to make a dreaded phone call to Stephen about what happened. I was not looking forward to it. But, like with the doc, I bit my lip and got on with it. ‘Stephen’ I said. ‘Bad news but I was playing basketball and destroyed my ankle. I thought it only fair to ring you as you are the only man who deals with these things. What I need to know is – does our insurance cover me?'