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Return of the King — Fennelly delighted to see Shefflin back after ‘horrible’ season

Kilkenny great Henry Shefflin expected to return for a remarkable 16th inter-county season in 2014.

Shefflin: joined the Cats squad for testing last weekend.
Shefflin: joined the Cats squad for testing last weekend.
Image: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

KILKENNY’S NIGHTMARE SUMMER would have been “a horrible way” for Henry Shefflin to bow out, team-mate Michael Fennelly admits.

Shefflin rejoined the Cats’ squad for pre-season fitness tests last weekend and now appears set to play a remarkable 16th inter-county season — and bid for an unprecedented 10th All-Ireland title.

Fennelly said: “I think he is going to go ahead next year. I don’t know, I’d say he’s 90% sure at this stage.”

Shefflin, 35, missed the entire league campaign with a broken bone in his foot and by the time he was fit for action, Kilkenny were out of the Leinster Championship and facing into win-or-bust qualifiers.

He came off the bench against old rivals Tipperary and against Waterford and did not make his first start until the All-Ireland quarter-final.

But the 11-time All Star was sent off for two yellow cards as Kilkenny lost out to eventual runners-up Cork.

“It was a bad year for Kilkenny and a bad year for Henry injury-wise,” Fennelly added.

He didn’t get much game-time. How many minutes of play did he get? He might have got 40 minutes for the whole year because he didn’t play in the league so it would have been a horrible way to go.

It would have been different if he was past it or finished, but he’s still in good nick.

Fennelly, who is still rehabbing the foot injury which plagued him last summer, does not expect any other retirements in the off-season.

And manager Brian Cody has injected new life into his backroom team by bringing James McGarry and Derek Lyng on board.

The two All-Ireland winners join Michael Dempsey as selectors following Martin Fogarty’s decision to step down.

“It will be nice for players to have Derek Lyng. He is a great leader and a great lad to talk to.

“James McGarry is great for player development and a great head on his shoulders. It will bring a bit of freshness to it too.”

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Niall Kelly

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