Galway hurling goalkeeper James Skehill has revealed how a surgeon discovered that his shoulder was in much worse condition than expected when he went under the knife in Waterford last week.
Damage to bone, capsule, tendons and ligaments meant that a scheduled two-hour operation lasted twice as long because of the complications.
Skehill originally hurt his left shoulder against Waterford in a league match in late March and missed almost three months, but he returned for the remainder of the championship and only aggravated it again on the Friday night before the All-Ireland final replay against Kilkenny.
He had to come off at half-time in that match, such was his discomfort, and admitted the day after that he had not been fit to start in the first place. His surgeon, Ger Moloney, believes he can return to action next March.
"He opened me up and discovered more damage than originally expected, but everything is fixed down now," said Skehill. "I'm on the road to recovery and we are expecting to be back playing by St Patrick's Day."
Skehill doesn't think his problems were compounded by the impact of that fall two nights before the Kilkenny game.
"I asked him that, whether it could have happened the second time and he said he doesn't think so. It was unstable throughout the year. It was like 90pc of the shoulder injuries he has seen before. They are never what they seem on the MRI scan, there is always something different," he said.
The down side for Skehill is that he's in danger of missing out on three weeks' wages from his civil engineering job, but he acknowledges that that is part of the deal of being an amateur sportsman.
"It's tough in these kind of times. The first time I did it back in March, again, it was weeks without pay and when I did the right shoulder I was a college student, which put me back in my studies as well. But as an amateur sportsman you have to accept these things," he said.
Skehill has praised the Galway Hurling Board for their handling of welfare matters in the past.
"Insurance will cover all your costs. You're not going to be in a negative situation, but I'm not sure if they cover the full extent of the wages. You can be sure that I won't get everything back," he said. "I'm not the only player around the country. I'm sure there are a lot of club players around the country that are in the same situation as I am, but I know that the Galway County Board won't leave me hanging. They're a great bunch of people to have over you."
Skehill is adamant that he will be able to resume completely next year without any fear of recurrence and has even committed to having his troublesome right shoulder repaired this time next year too.
"Truth be told, the only time the injury was in my head was the Offaly game, my first game back after injury," said the Cappataggle man.
"Now, when I return next year, the door will be closed on this injury. As far as I'm concerned it's not going to happen again.
"It was diving to my right that it happened. If you were in a car crash, you'd always get into your car again the next time, so it's all about coaxing myself into it and hitting the ground nice and handy and then going full blast again.
"But I'm sure the physio team and medical team won't let me out on the pitch until they feel I'm 100pc."