Back home under the supervision of his mum this week, Packie Mailey celebrated his 29th birthday as part of the road to recovery after a nasty collision with ‘keeper Harry Doherty in Finn Park on Monday night.
There was a degree of concern in the immediate aftermath of the clash before both were removed to Letterkenny Hospital, where Doherty was detained overnight.
Tea-totaller Packie has been teased since then by his friends and he admitted “now I know what a hangover feels like.”
But he is already planning the recovery. “It was one of those things. Unfortunately I was on the receiving end this time. It was a ball over the top and myself and young Jack Keaney were going for it. Harry must have felt he needed to come out. It was just one of those things,” says Mailey, who said he knew something was wrong once he hit the ground.
“There was blood, but I wasn’t sure where it was coming from. I knew it was bad and when the boys came around, my fears were confirmed,” said Mailey, who wasn’t fully aware of what had happened.
“I was lying on the ground facing the Town end and I was being told not to move. I knew there was someone else down behind me. The boys then told me it was Harry,” he said, adding that there was a bit of worry because of head trauma.
“Thankfully, he came around as we were both getting into the ambulance.”
For Packie’s mum, Rose, who was in the crowd, it was not easy to watch. “I’m told she was coolness personified, but I don’t believe that!” says Packie, who said that she was on the ‘phone to other family members. He admitted that she would have been happy to see him able to walk unaided.
One of the big problems with incidents like this at games is the impact of social media with posts that can be dangerous and untrue, and these can make it very distressing for family members.
“My girlfriend Chloe would have been following it on Twitter, but when I got to Letterkenny Hospital I was able to text her. Social media has its benefits, but it also has drawbacks.”
For now Mailey is hoping to have the stitches removed by the weekend and he will be back in Finn Park to cheer on his teammates against Drogheda. As he says himself “unfortunately not in the capacity that I would like.”
Then he will just have to wait for the healing process to work. There may be even talk of wearing headgear like Terry Butcher or Peter Cech.
Before then it will be plenty of pizza and sponge cake and some work in the swimming pool and on the bike to work it off!