Murphy on the mend as Kilkenny seek to maintain momentum
Injured goalkeeper sees a 20m difference between some hurling sliotars
Eoin Murphy: injured goalkeeper is hoping to be back in contention by the time of the Leinster final – should Kilkenny advance that far. They face Galway at Nowlan Park on Sunday. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Eoin Murphy is describing in precise detail the knee injury which had his entire season with Kilkenny flashing before his eyes, and perhaps hopes too of being All Star hurling goalkeeper for a second successive year.
The unknown and intense level of pain; the hoping for the best and the fearing for the worst; the wondering and questioning about what he was doing there in the first place.
Because Murphy sustained the injury while playing outfield for his club Glenmore back in April. He’s since missed Kilkenny’s opening championship wins over Dublin and Carlow, and will also miss this Sunday’s showdown against Galway, and the final game against Wexford on Saturday week, but hopes to be back in contention for the Leinster final, should Kilkenny get that far.
“It was a fracture at the top of the tibia, a hyper-extension of the knee, a collision of the kneecap and the top of the tibia, and that gave way,” he says. “I was lucky I didn’t do any other damage. Silver lining, I suppose.
“It is unusual in that it didn’t do any other damage. I will count my lucky stars in that regard. It could be a season-ending injury with a cruciate or Achilles tendon. Because when I went down, there was a pain level there that I hadn’t experienced before.
“Apart from knocks that are part and parcel of the game, I have never had a serious injury so lucky enough. So I knew there was something up there. I couldn’t move the knee for a while, it was locked solid for a while.
“When I got the scan and was told the injury it was, at least I was given a time-frame, depending on the severity of it, you are given a loose period because each person will heal differently. It was something I could work towards. From that point of view, it was good for the head as much as anything else because I knew where I was going.”
Kilkenny’s fine start to the championship has also brought some relief, only Murphy, naturally, wants that number one shirt back as soon as possible.
“The short answer is I just don’t know how far I’m away. I did some light jogging there yesterday, and it was my first time doing anything. I am just off the crutches a week and a half, so it is just a progression thing. If there is no soreness or reaction to it, I can start loading on a bit more, doing a bit more running, do a bit of twisting and turning.
“If I get a setback, when it goes a bit sore, look I just don’t know is the answer. It will be at least three or four weeks anyway. It just depends how it progresses. Everyone reacts differently to the injury. It is a break at the top of the tibia, it is a low-bearing bone, and it can be quite sensitive. It is just about pushing on with it and see how it’s healed.”
Still there are no regrets about playing outfield, given that’s actually where he got his love for hurling.
“Obviously when I was younger you’d think you were Henry Shefflin, you’d want to be playing centre forward and scoring, but TJ Reid wouldn’t give me the frees, so . .
“But yeah, the fact I hurled out the field for the club I would have thought of myself as an outfield player. I then had a bit of a crossover, I played minor, played 2008 in the goal, then I had two years out the field in under-21 in 2010 and 2011. So I’ve had the best of both worlds in that regard. Look, I’ll be classed as a goalkeeper now, I don’t think Brian Cody is going to change his mind anytime soon.”
One thing Murphy has observed during his time in goal is the ever increasing range of sliotars, including their range of distance – some going 20 metres further in the puck-out, depending on the exact brand.
“Yeah, it would be that, probably at least that. If I was pucking out a certain brand, you might see that you’d never get the same ball back. But a sliotar at the end of the day, you still have to reach a man, you still have to puck it short, if that’s 20 or 30 yards you’re still going to have to drill it. And if the ball is being hit at you, you’re still going to have to stop it. I wouldn’t get caught up in it too much.
“I think there is something being brought in where they’re going to be chipped as well and you can scan it. So, the registered sliotar has to be used throughout a match scenario. But, look, if they do they do . . that’s just the way it goes . . . if a shot is being taken at you, if it’s that little bit slower; but if I’m going taking a free and I can get an extra 20 yards, so be it.”