We caught up with the Kilbricken farmer, endearingly known as the ‘Red Lad’ when he was up to his oxter in bales, corn, milk and slurry all at the one time.
“ I enjoyed every minute of it,” said John Power, a senior All-Ireland winner first in 1992 on a half-forward line that also included D.J. Carey and Liam McCarthy. “It was a tremendous spectacle. In fact, you would have to take your hat off to the GAA.
“They put on a show second to none, and everyone went home delighted that there is going to be another day out. I loved All-Ireland final day when I was playing, and I still think it is a marvellous day now that I can sit back and enjoy the event.”
Was the draw a bit of an anti-climax ?
“Ah it was really in one sense. What was a little worrying was the fact that there was such a volume of people all going out on to the road afterwards, and it was a little frightening. I had two youngsters by the hand, and the crowd just came pouring on to the road, and it was getting tighter by the minute. You could understand how a Hillsborough could happen. That was a problem that had not been anticipated, being as we hadn’t a draw since 1959. But thankfully it all worked out OK.”
And the match?
“Sure we were spoiled over the years. Many of us expected that our lads would have a comfortable lead going into the final minutes, and that we would have a bit of a comfort zone. But that didn’t happen, and it is not going to happen either, because some of the other teams around are copping on to our way of doing things, and preparing for matches.
“And I suppose the big energy in our team over the years is waning a bit. How could you blame anyone for that? We have had such tremendous enjoyment and reward for the last dozen years or so. These lads are not robots. They are made of flesh and bone like everyone else. They just cannot stay going forever.
“I feel that our lads deserve great credit to get where they still are really, because Galway came out of the blocks just like they did in the Leinster final, and while some thought that the Leinster was a bit of a hiccup, it most certainly proved that they are a serious team. They nailed our lads for the first half, that was until Henry stepped in and shot three great points at a vital stage.
“If he hadn’t done that I feel that we would have been in bother. But Henry gave us hope, a bit of a chance, and boys did he turn it on in the second half. His body language told us a lot about how he was feeling when hitting those three frees. He didn’t just tip them over.
“The way he hammered them over told Galway that Henry Shefflin and his Kilkenny players were not finished yet. He gave the greatest one-man show I can remember. And then Galway fell onto the defensive mode, with Joe Canning nearly absent for most of the second half.”
Was Shefflin right with the penalty?
“Most certainly in my opinion. It was his decision to make, and he didn’t have the benefit of hindsight. There were 80,000 people there, and you could have as many opinions expressed as there were people there. He had the courage of his own convictions and gave Kilkenny a certain lead with a couple of minutes to go. That is why he is as great as he is.”
Delighted for Canning
The last few minutes?
“Galway had two opportunities to score afterwards from play, but failed. Then we had the two Joe Canning frees, and as a hurling man, having missed the first one, I was delighted that he got the second one. I wouldn’t wish missing it on my worst enemy.”
“We are still very live favourites to win it, and we are a long way from gone. A good few of our lads didn’t perform to the best of their abilities, but they have had an awful long time at the coalface of competition. While Henry was forced to take a break, the likes of Tommy and J.J. and a few more still have to maintain a very high level of commitment with their clubs.
“They are perceived as the men who will save their clubs from relegation and things like that. But still I feel that if we get better value from a few more in addition to Henry, I feel we still have the beating of Galway.”