GALWAY GOALKEEPER James Skehill yesterday confirmed what we all could see on Sunday; he wasn’t fit from the moment the ball was thrown in for the All-Ireland hurling final replay at Croke Park.
The Cappataggle clubman injured his shoulder during a light training session on Friday night but was pressed into action less than 36 hours later at GAA HQ.
But Skehill was ultimately replaced in the Galway goal after a first half in which he clearly struggled.
“Basically we were going through our pre-match routine as we do every week,” the 25-year-old told reporters at the panel’s hotel yesterday, in the wake of their 11-point defeat to the Cats.
“It involves a bit of shooting practice, save what you can really. I dived to my right, very similar save to the one I made against Colin Fennelly,
and I landed kind of awkwardly and the shoulder popped out completely.
“At that stage I thought I definitely wasn’t going to make it at all because my shoulder was up here [indicating]. Went to hospital and they popped it back in and they gave me a 20-80 chance of playing. As soon as I heard that I said, ‘That’s good news anyway!’
“So, down Saturday for a pre-match fitness test. In my own head I failed it, I failed it miserably. So, yesterday I got about five or six injections, took Panadol, Difene but they didn’t work, nothing kicked in. It was just too sore. Just too sore.”
Despite the discomfort Skehill lined out behind his skipper Fergal Moore for the pre-game parade but looked out of sorts from the off. Why start?
“As I said to my mother and the family, I thought in my own head my presence being there would give the guys outside a lift. Because if I was
behind them it would give them a sense of familiarity,” he explains. “There’s James, nothing has changed, everything is okay.
“Friday was kind of a crisis moment. I don’t care who you are but seeing one of your players, if I saw one of my team-mates down with a popped
shoulder it would effect me no matter how mentally strong you are. Sure look it, I love all them guys so I said I would give everything I could to contribute. Some might say I was a hindrance but some might say it was a positive me starting.”
Skehill admits the decision to start was shared between himself and the management team.
“It was kind of 50-50 in the sense that the management entrusted me to tell them if I wasn’t able but also they understood how important it was
for me to start. We discussed it, we trashed it out, we did all the necessary physical tests and we thought we would go for it. We’d try our best anyway.”
But the first ball that dropped in front of the Tribesmen’s netminder, he elected to boot clear rather than gather it up.
“I never kick a ball, honest to God,” he says, “I just..Icouldn’t pick it up. I wasn’t able to do anything to be honest with you.”
Kilkenny’s Walter Walsh scores in thre second half. Pic: INPHO/Cathal Noonan
He continues: “People often talk about this pain barrier and I found it awful hard to break it [on Sunday] in the sense that no matter how much I concentrated on the game or concentrated on a ball or concentrated on the score every movement I made was like someone stabbing you with a knife. Every puck out was like getting stabbed.
“I’m not making excuses but that’s just the way it was. Knowing in the back of your mind that you are not 100%, you are split down the middle in the sense that you are telling yourself that you shouldn’t be here and the other part of you is saying ‘suck it up.’”