Henry Shefflin has confirmed his retirement from inter-county hurling. The multiple All-Ireland winner and All-Star recipient verified the widely speculated news earlier today during a press conference at Langton’s hotel in Kilkenny City.
During the event, he disclosed the ‘satisfaction he found from hurling, as well as his gratitude’ to those that made his career possible including all those from family and juvenile coaches to recent teammates.
Rumours had persisted up until the formal announcement of a press conference being set that Shefflin would defy expectation and persist for one more year, but this morning stated his belief that he was no longer up to the physical rigours of inter-county competition. Indeed, despite his wealth of experience, 2014 saw ‘King Henry’ no longer guaranteed of his number eleven shirt in the half forward line, often deployed in cameo appearances from the bench by Brian Cody.
On speaking to the media, Shefflin stated his final decision regarding what the future held being made while watching Kilkenny’s narrow 2-20 to 2-19 victory over Clare on television with wife Deirdre. Next weekend will see a rehash of that fixture when Kilkenny look at the possibility of losing both Shefflin as well as their Division 1A status.
The physical demands going forward were a concern for Shefflin and he detailed the “huge progress and advancements in sports conditioning in inter-county competition” that have been made over his decade and a half as part of the Kilkenny set up.
Over the course of those years, Shefflin has taken part in 15 senior hurling campaigns for the Cats, following a distinguished under age career that included time as part of the famous St. Kieran’s College in the Marble City, while also collecting two Fitzgibbon Cup medals with Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT).
His debut at Senior level was met with a narrow defeat against Cork in the league, but by the time that championship season rolled around he had established a place amongst the starting fifteen. The then newly-appointed Brian Cody could hardly have foresaw the massive influence the Ballyhale native would have had on his own career thus far. The relationship between the two was naturally touched on in today’s media event, as Shefflin thankful for that mentoring explained the chats he would have with his manager regarding what the future held.
On walking away Shefflin leaves a legacy of 71 Championship appearances with a career tally of 27-484, placing him as the highest scorer in the competitions history. His collection of eleven all stars reflecting his time as part of arguably the best hurling side of all time, highlighted by the famous ‘four in a row’ period.
He was most recently in action on St. Patrick’s Day when he guided Ballyhale Shamrocks to their sixth, and his third, senior All-Ireland success. The 36 year old will continue as part of his local set up, where he has also enjoyed numerous successes at county and provincial level.
What the future holds beyond that is uncertain, with the centre forward stating his intent to dedicate time to family life, especially his three children. When pressed regarding the possibility of one day leading his county from the dugout, Shefflin stated the “future” that the GAA would have in his life, but expressed his concern towards the pressures of such a role.
Regardless of what that future holds, Shefflin will undoubtedly go down as one of the GAA and Ireland’s greatest sporting icons.