Galway manager Henry Shefflin is sweating over centre-back Gearóid McInerney’s fitness ahead of Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final showdown against Limerick.
The 31-year-old limped away with a knee injury in the first half of Galway’s 2:19 to 1:21 quarter-final win over Cork at Thurles on Saturday and now faces a race against time to get fit for the clash against the All -Ireland Champion.
Shefflin said that although the initial prognosis confirmed the Oranmore-Maree Clubman would not require surgery, it will likely be next week to know if the former All Star will be fit, but he considers it a “serious doubt” .
“Gearóid had a knee scan on Sunday. The initial prognosis is that it won’t be a long-term injury and no surgery will be required, which is good for Gearóid in the first place.
“He’ll probably have to go and have a look at it again this week to get a better idea. It’s very early days, we don’t know how quickly knee strain will recover.
“But look, as far as the Limerick match goes, he has serious doubts. I firmly believe that Gearóid will do whatever it takes to come back. But realistically, we won’t know until the end of next week.”
An All Star in 2017 in a year in which he joined his father Gerry as an All-Ireland senior medalist, McInerney would be a huge loss to Galway, although Joseph Cooney did brilliantly as he moved back to the heart of defence , when he did go against Cork.
Shefflin reported no further injuries from Saturday’s win and he is hoping Brian Concannon, who started the game with a baton and started on the bench, will be fully fit again when they try to end Limerick’s bid for three in a row.
Concannon was drafted in for Cianan Fahy five minutes before the break and shortly after, McInerney’s injury forced another substitution, with Jason Flynn coming into attack and Joseph Cooney falling behind.
Concannon, Flynn and another sub Johnny Coen all hit the target in the second half and Shefflin said that was the kind of reaction he expected from the bench.
“The guys that came on had a huge impact that we haven’t really had in other games. Brian, Jason and Johnny all got points when we really needed them.
“It can be difficult to get into a game at this level when things got really hot in the second half and be on the pitch straight away. But the guys all made an impression on Saturday, which was a huge bonus.”
Shefflin has worked hard to get Galway to adapt to the swings of a game and deal better with adversity and he was pleased with the way they reacted when Shane Kingston scored a Cork goal four minutes into the restart scored and their five-point reduced interval lead to just two.
“The intensity of the game was much higher in the second half. Cork came out and scored and our lead was instantly reduced to two.
“Cork are such a fast team and we knew they would have periods where we would be under pressure. But I thought we reacted really well.
“A lot of guys really stood up; You saw Joseph Cooney’s versatility, it was fantastic to be able to move from winger back to centre-back. Every time Cork came our way we would respond with a couple of points to stay two or three points clear until they got it back to one in the final minutes.”
Shefflin also dismissed the frosty hands controversy 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 tuned out of, to be honest,” Shefflin added.
“As a player, I have a lot of experience in switching off from the outside noise before big games. The way the championship is now, the games are coming in dense and fast, leaving you with no time to fuss with things.
“You have to focus immediately on the next game and our next opponents. That’s always been our approach to this job so to be honest, it didn’t touch me personally.”
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