Shefflin's gamble was never going to pay off, says Tompkins
Published 07/09/2010 | 05:00
Larry Tompkins admits he was "amazed" Henry Shefflin was able to play any part in Sunday's All-Ireland hurling final.
Tompkins, whose own pain threshold was such that he finished the last 15 minutes of the 1990 All-Ireland football final with a severed cruciate himself, doesn't believe it is possible to compete properly at that level with the nature of the injury.
However, Tompkins said it was easy for everyone to be wise after the event and he could see why Brian Cody came to a decision with the player himself that he should start.
"You're going for five in a row. Do you have him going on the field, is it going to be a plus for you to have him there? You would probably say yes," said Tompkins, who was speaking at the launch of the O'Neills Kilmacud Crokes All-Ireland Football Sevens, which takes place on the eve of the All-Ireland football final on Saturday, September 18.
But Tompkins, who like Shefflin tore cruciate ligaments in both knees, just doesn't believe it's possible to play at the highest level with such an injury.
"People rang me after he trained in Nowlan Park. I was quite amazed because my first reaction was that it mustn't have been any problem with the cruciate ligament that he damaged in the first instance," he said.
"If you have any damage in your cruciate ligament, even if it's a small tear, it is impossible to try and play at this level.
"You might survive at club level, with your experience carrying you through a slower proceedings.
"When you are playing at inter-county level or in an All-Ireland final you have to be 100pc. There was no way he was going to be (at) that if he had any problem with the cruciate ligament."
Tompkins described cruciate damage as "just like a scissors cutting across it (the knee)".
"That's it. The knee is just wobbling underneath you and it is impossible. If he did do damage to the cruciate, he probably slightly tore it."
As for the risk, that was Kilkenny's entitlement, according to Tompkins. "Everyone is wise after the event," he said. "Maybe in his head Shefflin will say maybe it was the wrong way to go. We know that now, they know that now."
Tompkins played through the pain barrier as Cork captain but only after the late Mick McCarthy's knee had crumpled beneath him shortly beforehand.
"I suppose with my momentum and when you are powered-up I survived the game," said Tompkins. "But if I was to try and start the game without a cruciate ligament or a torn one there would be no way possible to do it.
"Not at this level; you might survive at club level but not at this level."