KILKENNY'S midfield star Michael Fennelly, who scored that magnificent first goal to send the Cats on their way last Sunday, was a serious injury doubt beforehand and did not train for a full eight days prior to the big game.
All of the Cats' injury worries were believed to have centred around his younger brother, Colin, who tore a hamstring in a club match three weeks ago.
But it emerged yesterday that Michael Fennelly was also badly struggling before the big rematch and had not trained for over a week in a desperate bid to get back in time.
The rangy centre-fielder, who is tipped to be named Hurler of the Year, confirmed yesterday that he pulled his hamstring in training last Wednesday week.
"I was maybe worse than him (Colin) last week," Fennelly revealed. "I was getting a bit frustrated at times because I couldn't puck around or do anything at all. I got back training the Friday before the match and had one hard session, that was it."
Injury had also stopped him training before the Wexford and Dublin games this summer, so he quipped: "That's the key now for me, the less training the better!"
Fennelly (26) struck for a brilliant goal in the 35th minute of the All-Ireland final. Though it looked like something off the training ground, he insisted it wasn't rehearsed.
"You make a load of runs and a lot of them you don't get the pass, but I got it and kept it low and, lucky enough, it went in," Fennelly said modestly.
He said this year's fifth All-Ireland medal means more to him because it was his first time to be involved in every game of the championship.
"It's tough to be there on the line. Even if you could contribute 10 minutes to the game, you'd be happy, but it's all about playing the whole time and starting and finishing the game; that's a special feeling.
"We had to take a look at ourselves two or three times this year, especially after the league final. We knew our work rate had to be upped.
"Last year against Tipperary, there were four lads around us every time we got the ball.
"This year we tried to do something similar, right back to 2006 when we were playing Cork, that work rate, we tried to emulate that again."
Asked if he expected any retirements from the team's veteran players who have amassed so many senior All-Ireland medals in the last 11 years, Fennelly said: "I'd say the likes of Eddie Brennan might call it a day.
"He is 32, he had his first child last week and he has seven or eight All-Irelands. He might leave on a high, but I can't see many more."