PROOF THAT NO matter how well you prepare and plan for an event, there is always room for something stupidly odd to come and bite you.
“It wasn’t really an injury,” says Fintan Goold of the ailment that kept him out of the Munster semi-final.
“It was an infection I got on my leg, I had to spend a few days in hospital after the Kerry game.
“It cleared up fine with the antibiotics, I’m back training now, no problems.”
Having been named in the side to face his neighbouring county, Goold awoke the day before the game to find his foot swollen up like a small balloon. The rest of his body felt slightly off too. Reluctantly, he picked up the phone to let Conor Counihan know that his forwards would need reshuffling.
“It was unfortunate,” he says looking back, “you spend the whole season trying to prepare yourself physically, protecting quads and hamstrings, to be struck down with a rare thing like an infection is disappointing.
“We got over Kerry, which is great, I was as happy as anyone after that. Once I was physically right again it was a case of focusing on the next day and trying to get back in.”
That short chapter out of his road, the Macroom man sounds more than eager to leave it behind him as he saffirms: “It’s fine now, it’s a case of driving on from here.”
That next step has been postponed slightly owing to Counihan’s decision to stick with the side which overcame the All Ireland runners-up. Ciaran Sheehan will fill Goold’s favoured position. The message in Cork is clear; no man can guarantee a starting place.
Goold knows that only too well, he has endured more than his fair share of uncertainty having never quite been able to hold down a position. His two starts in a Munster final came in 2005 and 2006, when he was still a teenager.
Now, he appreciates the honour all the more and has resigned himself to the fact that squads will be rotated. He knows too, though, that longevity in a role is still within his control.
What do you do?” He responds when asked about concerns that he may never be a regular starter. “You have to focus on what you can do, that’s getting yourself right mentally and physically, when you’re given an opportunity that’s the big thing.
“Competition is so strong that when you’re trying to break into a team you really have to try and grasp the opportunity with two hands. Particularly over the past few campaigns I’ve taken the league very seriously, as when you are a regular maybe it’s a bit easier to have an off-day or two but when you’re trying to break in there every league game is important.”
This outlook comes only from experience, even at 25 Goold can now look back and wince at occasions when his younger self failed to grasp the nettle when it was thrust his way. Criticism, and how you take it, is the key to improving.
“You’ve got to be able to take criticism on the chin, as much so as you take praise with a pinch of salt. I’m not under any illusions, you know yourself when you play well and you know yourself when don’t – you don’t need anybody else to tell you.”
This Sunday, he will watch his teammates take the field on a hiding to nothing: win comfortably, and little credit will come their way. If Clare run them close, they’ll be pilloried.
“People expect you to win, and you’ve got to deal with that, but the one thing we have realised throughout the league is that we’ve mixed the very good with the very bad.
“If you analyse the days when we were bad, a lot of it was just down to poor attitude and poor workrate, they’re the fundamentals to everything in the modern game - if enough players going into the game against Clare not fully tuned in, that game can become very tough, very quickly.”
If that should come to pass, then Goold will surely be one of the first men sprung from the bench to try and get the juggernaut back in motion. Another chance to make an impression on a Munster final, another chance to stake a claim for a jersey in the latter stages of the quest for Sam.
“You’ve got to go in and take a ruthless attitude to it.” Goold says.
Because, no matter how well you plan for the future, there’s no time like right now.