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Shefflin unsure about club future but insists no Kilkenny retirements on the horizon

The King has yet to decide if he’ll prolong his career into next year.

Shefflin was at Croke Park yesterday for the Centra Live Well day.
Shefflin was at Croke Park yesterday for the Centra Live Well day.
Image: SPORTSFILE

AFTER A WINTER of retirements twelve months ago, Henry Shefflin doesn’t envisage any of Kilkenny’s All-Ireland winning team to call time on their inter-county careers over the coming months.

Although manager Brian Cody was forced to rebuild much of his side at the start of the year, the Cats stormed to a 36th All-Ireland title after defeating Galway in September’s final.

Cody’s ability to soften the blow of losing stalwarts such as JJ Delaney, Tommy Walsh and Shefflin was testament to his management skills but also the county’s enduring production line.

But Shefflin believes his former manager won’t have to shuffle his pack to the same level this time around.

“No, no, no,” was his definitive response when asked if there would be any retirements. “No, I don’t think so. Obviously there are one or two of the lads who are in their thirties but Jackie [Tyrrell] is 33.

“I can see Jackie continuing to play on and I don’t envisage any retirements whatsoever.”

As two of the elder statesmen of the all-conquering Kilkenny team, much speculation has been made over the future of Tyrrell and Michael Fennelly.

The latter has struggled with a debilitating back complaint for the past couple of seasons but Shefflin insists his Ballyhale Shamrock club mate will be raring to go again come the turn of the year.

Michael Fennelly Fennelly suffered a relapse of his back injury during the summer. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

“Michael will be alright. Don’t worry about Michael at all,” he said. “He’ll have a good break now and obviously the club losing out was unfortunate for us but it’s going to do him good.

“You have to recognise the Kilkenny lads are expecting to be playing in the big occasions, so why would you leave it?

“Why would you leave it when you can still achieve things like playing in front of those big crowds and those opportunities? I don’t see that happening – you have to push through the pain barrier too.

“All you have to do is look at Eoin Larken. He only got his cast off his finer last week from the All-Ireland final. That will tell you the lengths we go to and it’s because the opportunity to play in-front of big crowds is there.”

Shefflin bowed out on his own terms last April after a glittering 16-year career. The 36-year-old was part of RTÉ’s championship coverage for much of the summer and said he enjoyed his first year of inter-county retirement.

“There’s not much more to talk to me about now,” he joked. “I did enjoy it to be honest. It was different, of course it was different and it was hard to watch and not be involved at some stage. Of course it was but overall I was happy.

“I said it at the time, I made the correct decision and it was totally right. Being involved with the media kept me very much involved and I enjoyed it.”

Back on the field, there was disappointment for Shefflin and Ballyhale Shamrocks as their defence of the Kilkenny Senior Hurling championship ended last weekend with defeat to O’Loughlin Gaels.

The 2-15 to 2-13 loss at Nowlan Park brought the curtain down on another club season for Shefflin and although hinting he will play again next year, he didn’t go as far as to commit.

“Jeez, I don’t know and I won’t get into this thing like last year where we sit here asking will I do this, will I do that,” he said, in reply to a question about his immediate club future.”

“I’ve a lot of commitments now with family and work so I’ll see. I think I will play with my club next year, whether it’s junior or senior I just don’t know to be honest – I enjoy the buzz of it.”

Over 650 children travelled to Croke Park today for a very special day out as part of Centra’s Live Well initiative. Young hurlers from 16 different clubs had the once in a lifetime chance to experience the ultimate behind the scenes day out with many of their hurling idols including Henry Shefflin, Seamus Hickey, and Pat Donnellan.  Through their partnership with the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Centra has been encouraging children all over Ireland to live healthier lives encouraging them to be active and educating them on nutrition. For more information see www.centra.ie  

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Ryan Bailey

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