EVERY time he drives past the pitch in Raheens, he winces at the thought.
It was here that Maurice Colbert’s brilliant football career ended at the age of 24.
“It was a championship game against Kill in Raheens. I remember carrying the ball. I probably took too much out of it and a hand came in the tackle and connected with my eye. The lens in my left eye was dislocated.”
The challenge came a few minutes after half-time but Colbert should have been elsewhere when it happened.
“I shouldn’t have even been playing that day because I promised someone I would be on holiday. I had to ring them from the Eye and Ear.”
The doctors told him not to play again. The injury he’d suffered was like a shoulder being knocked out of place. One more hit and his lens could go again. At 24 you don’t want to believe your playing days are over.
“I went back training that winter and the first league game back, I was midfield again. I caught the ball and just took a good shoulder and the vision went again. I lost the sight for six months but it came back again. It’s gradually corrected itself. I was told by my consultant about two years ago that I could go back and play football but I’m 38 now.”
This far removed it’s easy to console himself with the fact that it could have been far worse but that fact was no consolation in 1998.
“I remember I was just back on the county juniors. I was away working with KPMG so I was away from football for about two or three years. I left KPMG when I qualified and I was thinking this might be my chance again.”
Having won Leinster medals at minor and under-21 level with Kildare, he never got the chance to complete the collection. Instead he had to watch from afar as Kildare won their first senior title in 42 years that summer.
“It breaks your heart because the game starts and you just stand on the sideline. I stayed away from the game for a few years until my early 30s. Every time I drive by the pitch in Raheens now I think about it. At the time when you’re playing, it’s what you grow up with, it’s what you love.”
There is no trace of bitterness about him though. He came back into the fold with Two Mile House as a coach when Mark Millham took over as manager in 2006 and these days you’ll either see him coaching his kids in Clane, or out running through Naas in an effort to keep himself fit. Watching the current Two Mile House side blaze a trail has given him no end of satisfaction.
“There was a great team in ’94 but half of them were from Naas so I wouldn’t have grown up with them. Now it’s all coming from the underage structure. They’re all local lads who have grown up in the school.
“Winning is one thing but the way they’re winning really gets me. They’ve really exciting forwards. They’re the kind of team I’ve never seen at junior level before.”