The cruel side of sport - Carl and Keith face long lay-offs

The cruel side of sport - Carl and Keith face long lay-offs
Diarmaid Doherty @dgldemocrat

Two of Donegal’s best known footballers are facing lengthy spells on the sidelines after suffering horrific injuries playing for their respective clubs recently.

The injuries to Motherwell’s Carl McHugh and Finn Harps defender Keith Cowan have brought into focus how the career of a sportsperson can change in an instant.

McHugh, from Leitirmacaward, hasn’t played since the opening league game of the season after needing ten stitches in a gaping head wound sustained in a clash with Kilmarnock’s Dean Hawkshaw.

His manager, Mark McGhee, confirmed this week that the player has returned home to recuperate and isn’t likely to play again until well into the New Year.

Meanwhile Keith Cowan has revealed that he will be ruled out for all of next season due to the recent knee injury he suffered playing against St. Patrick’s Athletic.

In an interview with the Donegal Democrat, Cowan gave a harrowing account of the incident which resulted in a broken knee cap and a ruptured cruciate ligament.

He’d gone to challenge St. Pat’s player Jamie McGrath but as the two players came together, Cowan’s studs got caught in the ground.

“My momentum took me on and I just heard a crack,” he said. “I think when I looked down at my leg, I expected to see a break.

“Someone described it later as like a car crash injury, there was that much damage to the knee.”

Cowan, who underwent surgery in hospital in the days after the match, will wear a knee-brace for a number of weeks as he begins the long road to recovery.

Immediately ruled out for the end of season run-in, the 31-year-old said he won’t play next season either. He now has to get used to life without football for a while.

“It’s the everyday things that are different,” he said.

“Even opening the door is a problem because I’m on crutches.”

Kevin McHugh

Cowan’s injury came just days after his team-mate and captain, Kevin McHugh lost a finger in a freak accident while training an underage side.

McHugh, who was in his last season at Harps, has since hung up his boots.

Carl McHugh’s manager at Motherwell isn’t expecting the 23-year-old to return to action for some time yet.

The Donegal man is still suffering the side effects of delayed concussion almost three months on from sustaining his head injury.

"I don’t think he will be back before Christmas or New Year. The earliest would be New Year but again it is guesswork," Mark McGhee said this week.

"You could be asking me the same question in six months time.

“There is no defined prognosis or timescale.

"I think you have to wait for three weeks clear of any symptoms before he can train again. And he is far from that at the moment.

"He is still having symptoms. He has seen another expert in Dublin and he has reassured him that it is not anything sinister.

“ It will clear up, but he just has to be patient.

"If he had a broken leg, you can put a time on it. You can’t quite do that here but it will clear up. He just has to sit tight.”

If you have a story or want to send a photo or video to us please contact the Donegal Live editorial team any time. To contact Donegal Democrat and Donegal People's Press, email To contact Donegal Post, email To contact Inish Times, email

More News

Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.