Craig Gilroy post-match Ulster v Glasgow friendly
There was plenty to be happy about following Ulster’s convincing win over Glasgow on Saturday. Ulster fans will be delighted to see the return of Craig Gilroy following an 11 month absence through injury.
Gilroy has an electric turn of pace and has a knack of twisting and turning his way past defenders. With the arrival of Matt Faddes and an influx of talented youngsters, Ulster now have formidable strength in depth in the back-three.
Following the Ulster-Glasgow friendly, Gilroy describes what it’s like to be back in an Ulster jersey.
Craig, how does it feel to get back out onto the pitch after such a long absence through injury?
Yeah – it’s been a long time! My last game was on the 20th October last year against Racing away, so just shy of 11 months ago.
It has been a tough road back at times, but I had some great people within this organization to help me. The coaches including Dan (McFarland), Dan Soper and the physios all really helped me to get back.
I was really looking forward to today. I woke up this morning and the anticipation is a feeling that I’ve really missed. I have played at this club for a long time now and to go that long without playing was definitely quite challenging at times.
Today, pre-season friendly or not, I was just delighted to get the Ulster kit back on in front of the home crowd at the Kingspan and run out there again. It was great!
What were the nerves like before the game today? Was it a different kind of nerves having been out for so long?
Honestly, no. Of course, on a match day there will generally be some nerves but today I was genuinely really excited and happy to play again. It was so good to get the jersey on and run out in front of the home crowd. I was just soaking it all up.
Will Addison has also experienced what it’s like to have a long-term injury. He was out for 6-7 months and he spoke about the ‘dark patches’ you can go through in that period when you’re recovering. Can you relate to that at all?
Yeah there were definitely tough times. There are highs and lows when you’re recovering for that length of time. You can start to question things, but you have to stay positive. If you have a good group around you including family, friends, team-mates and coaches then it makes it a lot easier.
It must be good to be back scoring on your first game back?
Yeah, it’s nice to dot-down but I was just focused on getting through the game today and trying to stay off the physio bed!
I wasn’t going into this game thinking I have to set the world alight and score 10 tries. I just wanted to get back on the pitch and get through my first game back.
It’s been a tough pre-season but also really enjoyable. We have worked really hard in our pre-season preparations – the guys need to remind themselves of that coming into these games. We have money in the bank with all of the hard work we’ve done and it’s just ensuring that carries over to our performances on the pitch.
It must have been frustrating at the tail end of last season as you were close to getting back but just didn’t make it in time?
Yeah that was one of the most frustrating things about the injury. There wasn’t a set time-frame for recovery. My return date seemed to keep shifting and keep moving which got my hopes up and then it was set back even more.
Eventually the decision was made that I wasn’t going to play again that season and then at least I had a bit of closure.
As we were reaching the end of the summer break, I just wanted to get back in with everyone and hit the ground running doing what I love.
With the new season starting and a full pre-season under your belt it must be exciting to press the ‘reset’ button on last year and get a chance to show Dan (McFarland) what you can do over the course of a season?
Yeah in a sense I’m lucky in that I’ve had a full pre-season to prepare and get used to things.
Some guys have a long-term lay-off and have to come back during the season which can sometimes be a bit more challenging.
I’ve had the opportunity to work over the course of pre-season with all the different coaches on fitness and skills and it’s been good to be able to bring all that together and get a decent run-out today. Hopefully, I am hoping to stay off the physio bed this season and string a load of games together and help the squad push on from the amazing season we had last year.
Having performed so well last year, what are your expectations or Ulster this season?
We obviously want success and we have the right foundations for that. We just need to push on a step further from last year. It’s the small margins that matter. We are having that drilled into us by the coaches. I hope we can push on from where we were last year and have something to show for it at the end of the season.