By Eanna O'Reilly
Galway manager Henry Shefflin is sweating over the fitness of centre-back Gearóid McInerney ahead of their All-Ireland semi-final showdown against Limerick on Sunday week.
The 31-year old limped off in the opening half of Galway’s 2-19 to 1-21quarter-final win over Cork in Thurles on Saturday with a knee injury and he now faces a race against time to be fit for the clash against the All-Ireland champions.
Shefflin said that while initial prognosis confirmed the Oranmore-Maree clubman did not require surgery, it will probably be next week before it’s known if the former All Star will be fit, but he regards him as ‘a serious doubt’.
“Gearóid had a scan on his knee on Sunday. The initial prognosis is that it’s not going to be a long-term injury and won’t require surgery, which is good for Gearóid first and foremost.
“He’s probably going to have to go back and get it looked at later this week to get a better picture. It’s very early yet, we don’t know how quickly the strain on the knee will recover.
“But look, as regards the Limerick match, he is a serious doubt. I’d be fully confident in Gearóid that he will do absolutely everything he can to get back. But realistically we won’t know until late next week.’’
An All Star in 2017 in a year when he joined his dad Gerry as an All-Ireland senior medal winner, McInerney would be a big loss to Galway even though Joseph Cooney did superbly when he moved back to the heart of the defence when he had to go off against Cork.
Shefflin reported no other injuries from Saturday’s win and he’s hopeful that Brian Concannon, who carried a knock into the game and started on the bench, will be back to full fitness as they attempt to end Limerick’s bid for three-in-a-row.
Concannon was drafted in for Cianan Fahy five minutes from the break and then McInerney’s injury shortly afterwards forced another change, with Jason Flynn coming into attack and Joseph Cooney dropping back.
Concannon, Flynn and another sub Johnny Coen all hit the target in the second half and Shefflin said that was the sort of response he expects from the bench.
‘‘The lads who came off the bench had a huge impact, which we didn’t really get in other games. Brian, Jason, and Johnny all got points when we really needed them.
“It can be difficult to come into a game at that level when it was really heating up in the second half and be up to the pitch of it straight away. But the lads all had an impact on Saturday, which was a huge bonus.’’
Shefflin has been working hard on getting Galway to adapt to the fluctuations of a game and deal better with adversity and he was pleased with the way they responded when Shane Kingston cracked home a Cork goal four minutes after the restart and whittled down their five-point interval lead to just two.
‘‘The intensity of the game was much higher in the second half. Cork came out and got a goal and our lead was down to two straight away.
“Cork are such a fast-pacey team, and we knew they would have spells where we’d be under pressure. But I thought we responded really well.
“A lot of lads really stood up; you saw the versatility of Joseph Cooney, being able to move from wing forward back to centre back was fantastic. Every time Cork came at us, we responded with a couple of scores to stay two or three points ahead until the last few minutes when they brought it back to one.’’
Shefflin also dismissed the controversy over the frosty handshapes between himself and Brian Cody in their two Leinster SHC games.
‘‘There was a lot of noise around it but that was something I completely switched off from to be honest,” added Shefflin.
“As a player, I had plenty of experience of switching off from outside noise before big matches. The way the championship is now, the games come thick and fast, so you’ve no time to be dwelling on things.
“Your focus has to switch immediately to the next game and whoever our next opponents are. That’s always been our approach so far in this job, so it wasn’t something that affected me personally to be honest.’’Tweet