Johnny Hayes on shoulder injuries and cup football

Johnny Hayes wants to take Aberdeen to another cup final. Picture: SNS
Johnny Hayes wants to take Aberdeen to another cup final. Picture: SNS
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A BROKEN collar bone would normally demand immediate medical attention but Jonny Hayes was content to ply himself with pain killers if it meant being able to watch Aberdeen lift the League Cup last season.

Hayes’ cup final was brought to an agonising end after only a few minutes last season when he suffered a shoulder injury in a collision and was replaced by Cammy Smith.

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It was particularly heart-wrenching considering Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Hayes’ former club, were the opponents that day at Celtic Park.

The Irishman had also done as much as anyone to ensure Aberdeen reached the final, scoring twice in a semi-final win over against St Johnstone at Tynecastle a year ago on Sunday. “It didn’t bother me as I still went home with a winners’ medal,” he said. “The circumstances were not ideal. But we still won the cup and that’s all that matters.

“I didn’t get medical attention,” he recalled. “In fact I didn’t want it until the next day. The doctors iced my shoulder and I took as many painkillers as I could but I wanted to hang about for the game and the celebrations afterwards. Thankfully the champagne and a few other things numbed the pain that night.”

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The adrenaline coursing through his body meant he did not feel too uncomfortable even immediately after the injury incident; indeed, he endeavoured to play on. “The pain didn’t bother me,” he recalled. “But I couldn’t move my arm which meant I couldn’t run.

“I felt disappointed at not being able to help the boys on the pitch but I’ll be forever grateful to them for winning the cup.” He resisted the attempts to get him to a hospital because he wanted to support his teammates. This decision led to further damage to his shoulder as he could not resist jumping up when Adam Rooney scored the decisive kick in the penalty shoot-out, after the game finished goalless.

“I don’t remember too much about the final other than jumping up and down a lot,” Hayes said. “I sat with our physio Davie Wylie for the game. He and the doc Stuart Reary formed a brace around me but I managed to break free for the penalties and pop my shoulder out one more time. It was hard to watch but we won and that’s what matters.”

Now he is more determined than ever to ensure holders Aberdeen make it to another final by getting past Dundee United tomorrow. He is relishing the thought of sampling Hampden Park.

“It is a first game at Hampden for me and I’m looking forward to playing there after the Commonwealth Games ruled the stadium out for football last season,” he said.

“We didn’t get to the latter stages of the cups at Caley Thistle when I played there and last year Hampden wasn’t in use so I’ve never been anywhere near Hampden.”

“[Playing in the final] wasn’t a big deal last year to the players and the manager made sure of that,” he added. “It was a big thing for the club in general as it had been so long since it had been to a final but it didn’t affect the dressing-room.

“Dundee United are a very strong side and to win the cup we have to beat the best teams. It was the same last year when we won the cup and I’m sure it is going to be a cracking game.