‘Gut-wrenching’ injury ‘won’t ruin Rangers’ year’.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

HOTSHOT striker James Costello has said an injury that derailed his season just as Rathfriland Rangers were in white-hot form has been "gut-wrenching".

The frontman was well on his way to a recordbreaking goal tally for the Iveagh Park side when he was struck down by a thigh strain last month, writes Iain McDowell.

The 31-year-old has only managed one brief substitute appearance since and the injury has flared up again, meaning his season could well have come to an end at the worst possible time.

Costello had hit a remarkable 46 goals by the first week in April and was striking a shot looking for his 47th when he felt "instantaneous" pain.

"I knew I had done damage," he told The Outlook.

"From what I gather this injury has a four-tosix- week recovery period, but with the number of games we were facing I tried to return sooner than my leg could cope with and I've managed to injure myself again.

"The only games I could possibly return for would be in the last week of the season at the end of May."

That has left the Whites without their captain and star hitman just when they were on the hunt for an Amateur League and Clarence Cup double.

Add to that an injury to player-manager Aaron Black, which has shorn the Whites of some vital bite in their backline, as well as numerous niggles to other key players.

With Costello missing, the Rangers have lacked a killer instinct in front of goal and have dropped crucial points, leaving them six off the league's pacesetters Crumlin Star.

Costello said he has felt helpless looking on as his teammates have had the gruelling task of playing three games a week over the past three weeks.

"To get injured at the crunch time just zapped my energy and emotions," he said.

"I know I could have helped the lads in the games we played since but what's done is done.

"I played every minute of every game up to that point and scored a ratio of goals that I was very proud of and felt like a key attribute to the team.

"To be honest it's gut wrenching." He also had Ally Wilson's club record of 53 goals in a season well in his sights.

Only a season-ending injury was going to stop him from snatching that record from his friend and former strike-partner, he said.

"The eight months I played this season were among the best I've had - 46 goals in 34 games hopefully got some heads turning and it's been great to play with this team.

"This year was the fittest I've been in ages and with only needing eight goals to break the goalscoring record with 13 games left, I felt I could do it but it wasn't to be this time."

Rathfriland face a trip to Seaview tomorrow night (Wednesday) for a season-defining semi-final in the Clarence Cup against bitter rivals, Star.

It is a venue the Whites have visited several times over the past few seasons, most notably for their Border Regiment Cup triumph in December 2016.

Star won the that silverware this season but Costello said his men will be going all out to make sure the Ardoyne club do not fulfil their dream of a treble-trophy season.

"The lads have went through hell in terms of the pile-up of fixtures," he said.

"It's basically pushed the squad to the limit and fair play to them, they've done their best - not one player has not given everything in the games and that's all Aaron could ask for.

"I just hope they can dig deep to get energy from somewhere for the semi and get us past Star.

"Who knows, I might even make an appearance in the final!"


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