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'I’d love to be still doing it on the field': New Ballyhale boss Shefflin confirms his playing days are over

Shefflin takes over as joint manager of the club with his brother Tommy.

Henry Shefflin Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

HENRY SHEFFLIN HAS admitted his appointment as joint-manager of Ballyhale Shamrocks signals the end of his playing career.

The 10-time All-Ireland winner was confirmed this week as manager of his native club, alongside his brother Tommy, who managed Carrickshock to the All-Ireland intermediate club title in March.

Shefflin retired from Kilkenny duty at the beginning of the 2015 season, but continued to hurl with Ballyhale until injuries eventually took their toll.

“I would love to be going back and still togging out, to be honest,” he told RTÉ’s Game On last night.

“But after a frustrating year last year, I came back late in the year fresh for the club championship, but I just got a knee injury and struggled again with the knee and could never get it right. I just couldn’t do it again.”

The 38-year-old confirmed that he’s hanging up his hurley and will be looking on from the sideline in 2018. He feels management will help replace some of the buzz he got from playing.

“As disappointed as I was that my hurling career was kind of over, I would have always thought about getting into management, not as quickly as this,” he said.

“Years ago you probably could have done it (player-manager), but it’s a full-on commitment. And that’s what I’ll be doing. I’ll be stepping aside and going to the sidelines. I’d love to be still back there and doing it on the field.

“I think the closest thing to it is getting involved in management and the closest thing to your heart is to get involved with your own club and both of them fit well together.”

Henry Shefflin Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Shefflin won six county titles and three All-Irelands on the field with Ballyhale, but they haven’t reigned supreme in Kilkenny since 2014 with Clara, O’Loughlin Gaels and Dicksboro all winning titles since then.

Shefflin always saw himself getting involved in management at some stage, but admitted being offered the job did come as a surprise.

“It just so happened that our outgoing manager Colm Bonner and Andy Moloney were stepping aside so the club came and asked me would I think about it.

“It’s a massive step up and a massive club to take on straight away. I would have loved to have gone off coaching for a couple of years.

“But the opportunity came up and I know these lads and they have serious potential.

“I didn’t have time to really stand back and think about this. It all came about very quickly. The club came to me and I had to think about it. So it is something that I will think about over the Christmas and make a plan for next year.

“I’ve worked with a lot of managers over the years and there is certain things you pick up from them. But whether it be from punditry or from playing the game myself, you have to be yourself.

“You cannot try to be someone else and hopefully that is what I’ll be and hopefully I’ll learn as I go along.”

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

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Kevin O'Brien

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