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Dundalk as it Happens

Louth forward Clarke facing spell on the sidelines

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Louth’s season might have only ended last month but star forward Darren Clarke is already in a race against time to be fit for next year’s campaign.

The Wee County’s current Player of the Year ruptured his medial collateral ligament while playing for his club side St Mary’s in a club championship match against Naomh Mairtin in Dunleer on Sunday.

A lengthy stoppage was required after Clarke went down clutching his knee, with the one consolation being that the Ardee side turned a one-point deficit into a two point win when the action resumed.

Commenting via his Twitter page, Clarke said he was “sick” to learn of his diagnosis but thanked everyone for their best wishes.

The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is one of four ligaments that are critical to the stability of the knee joint. The MCL spans the distance from the end of the femur (thigh bone) to the top of the tibia (shin bone) and is on the inside of the knee joint.

The injury is the latest in a series of setbacks for a man who hit eight points against Dublin in Croke Park just over a year ago.

He struggled for fitness throughout Louth’s National Football League Division Two campaign with a knee injury, which resulted him playing only half a match against Galway.

He was then unable to force his way into Aidan O’Rourke’s plans for the championship but had shown signs of a return to form with St Mary’s, having rejoined his hometown club in January after a five-year spell with St Sylvester’s in Malahide.

A typical rupturing of the MCL requires around four months out, which puts Clarke in doubt for Louth’s pre-season campaign next year, in what will be his 10th season in the red jersey.

The fact he has suffered knee injuries all year means he has to take extra precaution with his comeback though meaning he faces a real race against time to be back for the start of the National League in February.

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