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Limerick forward Shane Dowling says he was "crying in the car" last week after suffering what he feared was a major setback in his recovery from a knee injury.
The Na Piarsaigh clubman suffered a knee ligament injury in the Limerick senior hurling final against Kilmallock in October, but returned to club action in Saturday's All-Ireland 3-15 to 3-08 senior hurling semi-final victory over Ulster champions Slaughtneil.
Dowling's return to form is good news for Limerick hurling boss John Kiely, whose side face Dublin at the Gaelic Grounds in Allianz Leagues Division 1B on Saturday, live on eir Sport 1 [throw in 7pm], but the 24-year-old admits he feared the worst after suffering a setback in his recovery earlier this week.
"This day last week [Saturday, 3 February] I broke down in tears in Na Piarsaigh after doing a warm-up," he told the Limerick Leader.
"The knee just didn't take it. All credit to [surgeon] Tadgh O'Sullivan, who saw me Monday afternoon with very short notice and told me what it was and what I needed to do.
"I don't know would I be here today if it wasn't for him.
"This day last week I was crying going home in the car while everyone else was still playing a match - it's amazing what a week can do. I am just delighted to get back on the field of play."
Dowling, a second-half substititute at Parnell Park, scored a brilliant goal for the 2016 All-Ireland champions just minutes into his return with an over-the-shoulder hooked finish after nicking the ball off Slaughtneil goalkeeper Oisin O'Doherty.
Shane Dowling announces his return from injury with a cracking goal! pic.twitter.com/8Ji7aSJHDQ
— The GAA (@officialgaa) February 10, 2018
"It was great that it worked out," he continued.
"I might not get all the credit that I deserve for my work-rate on the field so that's something that I am conscious of and I could see him [O'Doherty] slowing down and you take your chance.
”One in 10 chance is all that you might get and thankfully I got that today.
"Look at the pitch - when I went to rise that ball I could have made a divot in the pitch but it just popped up and went in a millimetre from the crossbar - you need that bit of luck and thankfully we got it."
eir Sport has live and exclusive coverage of 17 Saturday matches in the 2018 Allianz Football and Hurling Leagues. Coverage continues on Saturday, 17 February with 2016 All-Ireland winners Tipperary hosting Wexford at Semple Stadium in hurling's Division 1A [live on eir Sport 2, throw in 7pm], and Limerick facing Dublin at the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick in Division 1B [live on eir Sport 1, throw-in 7pm].
Image: INPHO/Oisin Keniry
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