SFC Final Preview: Califf glad to be back from injury

David Lynch

Reporter:

David Lynch

SFC Final Preview: Califf glad to be back from injury
There was a long delay before the ambulance was eventually called for that evening back in early June. The Louth juniors were playing Cavan in the semi final of the Leinster Championship in Dowdallshill.

There was a long delay before the ambulance was eventually called for that evening back in early June. The Louth juniors were playing Cavan in the semi final of the Leinster Championship in Dowdallshill.

When the gates at the corner of the pitch were finally opened everybody watched on as the ambulance traversed the pitch to reach a stricken James Califf.

It looked like a season-ending moment for the Dreadnots midfielder. An innocuous challenge left him twisted in agony on the floor.

Califf was tended to and he left the pitch on a stretcher. To a man, no one expected to see him again this season.

It turned out to be a dislocated knee - painful - but, with the right rehab, a strong conviction and a willingness to work hard, he could be back before the season closed.

Looking back at it now Califf didn’t let his head drop throughout it all. There was no moping about or ‘poor me’ exclamations.

“It was a dislocated knee and it was hard work coming back”, remembers the rangy midfielder. “But I looked at it positively. When I get an injury I get an appetite to come back more than going the opposite way. I used that to my advantage and came back.

“It was all rehab and getting the proper help off the physio. All credit to them, they pushed me hard and I wanted to be back myself. I didn’t want to see another year go by because of injury. I’ve been kind of unlucky with injuries as well in the past. But that’s all behind me and I’ve no excuses now when I cross the white line.”

A chance to compete in a senior county final is something of a bonus for Califf given the year he’s had.

“Of course for myself it’s great to come back from injury. I got bad knock during the year. You keep yourself to yourself when you’re injured. But that’s what the panel is there for.”

He was there in 2012 and with the benefit of hindsight he can see that Dreadnots were overawed by the scale of the challenge then.

“We’d a final two years ago, but back then we were just happy to get to a final, but now it’s winning it that we want to do. We’re not just making up the numbers. I suppose that comes with the couple of years experience too.”

Still, their record against Pat’s is poor. There’s no argument about that from Califf. However he saw promising signs of what might be in the group clash with the Lordship giants.

“When you play the Pat’s if you make a mistake you’re going to be punished because of the calibre of players that they have. But I think the lads will take a lot from that game and maybe drive on.”

Colin Kelly may be the new man at the helm this year, but the former Louth star was in charge at Clogherhead before - he knows the core of the team well according to Califf.

“I was seventeen back then. It was the Gaels beat us in the first intermediate (final) and then we beat Na Piarsaigh the next year. Colin is great. His coaching is top class and he’ll leave no stone unturned in preparation for the final.”