INSPIRATIONAL Sion Ladies skipper Kendra Semple McMullan said having to call time on her stellar football career was the toughest decision she’s ever had to make.
This week the midfield enforcer decided to call it a day after suffering a serious knee injury in a recent game against title rivals Glentoran. The injury left the 26-year-old former Northern Ireland international on crutches and in a hinge brace and on Wednesday she was scheduled to have an MRI scan to ascertain the extent of the damage and whether or not surgery was required.
McMullan has been dogged by injury in the last couple of seasons and last July was rushed to hospital for surgery straight after a game suffering from Appendicitis. This latest setback though was the last straw.
“Football was more than half of my life and I have no regrets at making the decision even though it’s one I didn’t expect to make at this age,” she said.
“But there are other things going on in my life with work and stuff and it has to take priority. Who’s to say that were I to play again that I wouldn’t get seriously injured so I feel this is the right decision for me.
“You never like to admit that your body is telling you to quit especially when you are so into your sport but recently I have picked up injury after injury and they haven’t been straightforward injuries. They have been ones that meant I was taking time off work and going through a lot of rehab. That was something I was prepared to do to get back on the pitch. But it was mentally challenging as well as physically. Hopefully
I can recover the best I can from this injury so I can get back training in the gym myself and what have you.”
As a player McMullan was an all-action midfielder who led by example at all times. She was totally committed and dedicated to the Sion cause since joining the North Tyrone club seven years ago and went the extra mile in training to ensure that she was performing at the top of her game come match-day.
McMullan was the driving force which helped Swifts secure promotion to the Premiership and no one will ever forget how she inspired her team to Irish Cup glory in September 2017 when the midfield lynchpin scored both goals against Newry City Ladies in the showpiece decider at the National Stadium Windsor Park. Reflecting on her career, Kendra said that when seeing photos or highlights of that historic and momentous occasion it still gives her goosebumps.
“That was the dream come true for me,” she continued.
“The feeling that night was incredible. It was amazing to do it with the squad of players that we had, Tony (McGinley) and Tommy (Canning) and the rest of the management team. It was great to give something back to the club for what they had done for me.
“It was a special night and one I will never forget. It was the best day and night of my life.”
For Kendra though the main objective now is get back on the road to recovery so she can get on with living life to the full without football. She admits that won’t be easy but reiterates that her decision to quit was the right one.
“I need to focus on myself and focus on whatever recovery plan is ahead of me. I have a lot going on right now.”
While losing Kendra will be an undoubted blow to Tony McGinley and his charges, they remain firmly in the hunt for the Danske Bank Women’s Premiership title after thumping rivals Glentoran 4-0 at Melvin on Wednesday to set up a crunch clash against Linfield in Belfast later today.