Cushley was a close-season capture considered a statement signing during the initial stages of Stuart King’s arrival at Carrick Rangers.
Injury may have robbed Cushley of precious opportunities to showcase his skills in Carrick colours but when manager King turned to the 32-year-old at half-time on Saturday it offered a welcome step forward in his path back.
Stepping on to the Shamrock Park pitch after half-time with Carrick down by 2-0, Cushley walked off it 45-plus minutes later celebrating a rescue mission which featured his assist for the late equaliser.
“You always want to play and in the first half I was watching from the bench itching to get on,” said Cushley. “It was just good to be on the pitch - eight weeks of hell without football.
“I’d played 10 minutes last Saturday, so was glad to get 45 minutes under my belt and be back amongst the boys.
“It’s just trying to get the fitness up after weeks of doing nothing then rehab, so it’s just great to be out there.
“Last weekend I wasn’t supposed to be on the bench then Stuarty said if needed could I come on for five...and I said ‘yeah’!
“Today I was meant to be on the bench, I had a good week in training, the previous week was good also but the club felt it was still a bit early.
“I want to be in and about it, I hate being around not involved and just want to play as much as I can.
“It was a freak injury, a tackle but the medial has healed well.
“I wanted to come to Carrick to play but there’s nothing you can do when an injury like that happens...it wasn’t a bad tackle or anything, just an on-pitch incident and I knew as soon as it happened that was me out for weeks.
“To be fair, I worked hard away at home on my own and came back able to do things at the club maybe not expected.
“I was about the training and it has been brilliant, the high tempo demanded.
“I was coming every night to training and games giving all I can but there’s nothing like being out on a Saturday.
“The boys have been brilliant all season...but in the first half I don’t think we gave a good account of ourselves, it wasn’t us.
“From the chances you could see, we were the better team in the second half.
“We put pressure on Portadown and maybe could have won it at the end.
“At half-time Stuart made the point it wasn’t good enough for the standards we’ve set ourselves, which was 100 per cent true.
“I think the boys knew that and they reacted.
“I could have won it, the ball got played over but it was a tight angle and just had to swing.
“It was just inches over...sometimes they go in, sometimes they don’t.
“But just good to be back on and involved with the boys.”
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