Cats sharpen claws for more success
“If you’d have lost it might have been a lot worse, but it was nothing, really, a spur of the moment thing, but I suppose it did help us in the end. I was gone for ten minutes and I didn’t see that but when I came back out we were after building on our lead. It was great to come back out with that cushion.
“And I didn’t see it then or since, but I was talking to him (Cyril Donnellan) after the match, and there was no animosity or anything. It was just a spur of the moment thing. He didn’t apologise. There was nothing to apologise for really. I was chatting away after the match and there was no problem whatsoever.”
Delaney, not surprisingly, hasn’t given a moment’s thought to retirement, nor he reckons has the likes of Noel Hickey.
For Walsh, meanwhile, the dream All-Ireland final debut might still be sinking in, but what is certain is that his playing career will never experience a day like it again.
“It was a very surreal experience to be honest,” says Walsh. “And I can’t really tell you what it was like, because I still haven’t come to terms with it.
“I just tried to treat it as another game, and the lads were all talking to me beforehand, David Herity, JJ, and those, had a few words with me, good words. Brian Cody, Martin Dempsey and Michael Fogarty also had a word with me, told me it was just another match, nothing more, to try to do what I always do. It just went a bit better than I thought it would.”
Funny how many a Kilkenny debutant end up saying the same thing.
Henry Shefflin: Record nine All-Ireland titles - on the field of play
Kilkenny: 5-15; Offaly: 1-14.
Kilkenny had lost the previous two All-Ireland finals, Shefflin himself on the losing end of the 1999 final, to Cork, but his first winning performance was one of the most comprehensive, Shefflin wonderful throughout, and part of a full-forward line of Charlie Carter and DJ Carey that hit 4-10 between them. Shefflin scored 1-3, and later that year was awarded his first All Star.
KILKENNY: J McGarry; M Kavanagh, N Hickey, W O’Connor (capt); P Larkin, E Kennedy, P Barry; A Comerford, B McEvoy; D Byrne, J Power, J Hoyne; C Carter, DJ Carey, H Shefflin. Subs: C Brennan for McEvoy, E Brennan for C Brennan.
Kilkenny: 2-20; Clare: 0-19
Shefflin scored 1-7 in this one, his goal in the 67th minute proving vital to sealing the victory for Kilkenny. He’d hit four points, two from play, by the 15th minute, playing at centre forward, putting Clare centre-back Seánie McMahon under massive pressure, and this completing a first league and championship double.
KILKENNY: J McGarry; M Kavanagh, N Hickey, P Larkin; R Mullally, P Barry, JJ Delaney; A Comerford (capt), D Lyng; J Hoyne, H Shefflin, J Coogan; E Brennan, M Comerford, DJ Carey. Subs: C. Carter for Coogan, B McEvoy for Hoyne, J Power for Brennan.
Kilkenny: 1-14; Cork 1-11
A third All-Ireland winners’ medal in four years, and a third All Star award quickly followed, as Shefflin finished this final with 0-6, two points from play, his superb influence once again felt throughout the field, as this time he started in the number 10 shirt.
KILKENNY: J McGarry; M Kavanagh, N Hickey, J Ryall; S Dowling, P Barry, JJ Delaney; D Lyng, P Mullally; H Shefflin, J Hoyne, T Walsh; DJ Carey (capt), M Comerford, E Brennan. Subs: C Phelan for Walsh, A Comerford for Ryall, R Mullally for P Mullally, J Coogan for Brennan.
Kilkenny: 1-16; Cork: 1-13
With a final tally of 0-8, this game is best remembered for his hard graft, as Shefflin continually pressured the Cork backs to the extent their much-vaunted half-back line failed to impact as usual, and ended up top scorer of the season with a tally of 2-47, from five games. He also picked up his sixth All Star, and was named hurler of the year.
KILKENNY: J McGarry; M Kavanagh, N Hickey, J Tyrrell (capt); T Walsh, J Tennyson, J Ryall; D Lyng, J Fitzpatrick; E Brennan, M Comerford, E Larkin; R Power, H Shefflin, A Fogarty. Subs: W O’Dwyer for Larkin, R Mullally for Lyng.
Kilkenny 2-19; Limerick 1-15
As captain there was extra pressure on Shefflin this time, and yet along with Eddie Brennan, a goal early on helped Kilkenny into a 2-2 to no score lead, and there was no way back for Limerick. However he was unable to resume the second half, after sustaining cruciate ligament injury late in the first half, still he ended with 1-2, earned himself his seventh All Star, and got to lift the Liam McCarthy cup.
KILKENNY: PJ Ryan; M Kavanagh, N Hickey, J Tyrrell; T Walsh, B Hogan, JJ Delaney; D Lyng, J Fitzpatrick; W O’Dwyer, M Comerford, E Larkin; E Brennan, H Shefflin (capt), A Fogarty. Subs: J Tennyson for Hickey, R Power for O’Dwyer, M Fennelly for Shefflin.
Kilkenny 3-30; Waterford 1-13
It was labelled the perfect team performance, with Shefflin once again making the perfect contribution, with a score of 0-8, and was later awarded with his eighth All Star. It was Kilkenny’s first three-in-a-row since 1913, their 23-point victory the biggest final margin in 45 years.
KILKENNY: PJ Ryan; M Kavanagh, N Hickey, J Tyrrell; T Walsh, B Hogan, JJ Delaney; J Fitzpatrick (capt) , D Lyng; H Shefflin, M Comerford, E Larkin; E Brennan, R Power, A Fogarty. Subs: TJ Reid for Comerford, J McGarry for Ryan.
Kilkenny 2-22; Tipperary 0-23
A fourth All-Ireland in succession, but not easily won, as Tipperary were two points up with eight minutes to go, when Kilkenny were awarded a penalty, perfectly struck by Shefflin, although other than that he was well contained by Tipp, and only managed one point from play, although was still their top scorer with 1-8, and ended the season with a ninth All Star.
KILKENNY: PJ Ryan; M Kavanagh, JJ Delaney, J Tyrrell; T Walsh, B Hogan, J Tennyson; D Lyng, M Rice; E Brennan, E Larkin, R Power; R Hogan, H Shefflin, A Fogarty. Subs: TJ Reid for Fogarty, M Fennelly for Lyng, M Comerford for R Hogan.
Kilkenny 2-17; Tipperary 1-16
A sweet comeback after the 2010 final ended in heartbreaking defeat to Tipperary, when Shefflin suffered the recurrence of the cruciate injury, as this time he scored 0-7, and ended with his 10th All Star award. Kilkenny never looked back, once Shefflin fired over the opening point in the second minute.
KILKENNY: D Herity; J Tyrrell, JJ Delaney, N Hickey; T Walsh, B Hogan (capt), P Murphy; M Fennelly, M Rice; E Brennan, R Power, H Shefflin; C Fennelly, E Larkin, R Hogan. Subs: TJ Reid for Brennan, J Mulhall for Hogan.
Kilkenny 3-22; Galway 3-11
With a final score of 0-9, including five frees, and two 65s, Shefflin improved his overall record championship score to an amazing 27-480, from 62 games, and also made history in becoming the first player to win a ninth All-Ireland title in the field on play. Now, who is betting against number 10?
KILKENNY: D Herity; P Murphy, JJ Delaney, J Tyrrell; T Walsh, B Hogan, K Joyce; C Buckley, M Fennelly; E Larkin, H Shefflin, TJ Reid; W Walsh, R Hogan, R Power. Subs: C Fennelly for W Walsh, N Hickey for Joyce, A Fogarty for Reid.