KILKENNY have scoffed at suggestions that the original misdiagnosis of Henry Shefflin’s knee ligament injury was exaggerated.
As the GAA world buzzed last night at the prospect of Shefflin starting Sunday week’s All-Ireland hurling final less than three weeks after sustaining the knee injury, Cats selector Martin Fogarty dismissed any suggestion that the problem was not as serious as first thought.
“There is no question about that,” he said. “He had a scan and it showed that he had severed his cruciate ligament.”
Shefflin’s appearance in Wednesday’s practice game at Nowlan Park has led to inevitable conclusions that he will be part of Kilkenny’s drive for five along with John Tennyson and Tommy Walsh at Croke Park on September 5, but Fogarty cautioned: “It is far too early yet. We will just have to wait and see. The lads will have to see how their bodies have reacted to it and we will just have to see how they fare in the week ahead.
“What people must realise is that Henry’s knee muscles were already very strong from all the work that he has done over his career.”
However, the lift was tempered by a finger injury to Brian Hogan which looks like ruling him out of the final.
Meath star Trevor Giles suffered a similar injury to Shefflin in the 1998 Leinster final and remembers it vividly. “I can remember it – most people do when they tear their cruciate. I went up for a ball and when I came down I felt something snap. I definitely felt something go – it’s a fairly big ligament so you’d certainly feel it. You wouldn’t have to be a doctor to know there’s something seriously wrong. There was serious pain for four or five minutes and I guessed what it was.”
Giles, a qualified physiotherapist, isn’t surprised to see Shefflin return to training with Kilkenny.
“You don’t know the extent of the injury, and there are plenty of lads playing with partially torn cruciate ligaments. They’ve strengthened up their knees and can get by for a long time with that – there are plenty of exercises to do to help that injury, specifically working the quadriceps and hamstrings.”
The Meath man points to Kildare’s Dermot Earley as an example of a player continuing to play with a similar injury.
“I don’t know if Henry’s is partially or completely torn – if it’s completely torn you wouldn’t expect the knee to last that long, even if you build up the muscles around it. If it’s a complete tear then there is a sense that it’s an accident waiting to happen. Dermot Earley of Kildare seemed to get through most of the games this season with his cruciate gone but it went in the Meath match.
“If the cruciate’s gone you’ll have some movement in your knee that shouldn’t be there, so there’s a risk of tearing your cartilage, for instance, that’s greater than it would be normally. The injury needs surgery eventually but you could take the view as a manager that you’ll get through a few more weeks before that operation.”
Giles can see the temptation for Brian Cody: “With him being such a good player, and such a big game coming up, I can understand them taking a chance that he’ll get by with the rehabilitation. But if it was a different time of the year and a younger player, you could take the view that it mightn’t be that sensible not to go for the surgery.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved