Cody adamant but some still calling for Shefflin
Nowlan Park 24,000 capacity sold out
´While Brian Cody has given Henry Shefflin ‘no chance’ of facing Tipperary on Saturday, former Cats great Eddie O’Connor believes even a ‘half-fit’ Shefflin would swing the match in the champions’ favour. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Brian Cody was adamant in the immediate aftermath of Kilkenny’s defeat to Dublin last Saturday night Henry Shefflin, Michael Fennelly and Paul Murphy would not be fit enough to face Tipperary in seven days time.
“Not a hope,” said Cody.
And still, as the GAA confirmed a 24,000 sell-out for Nowlan Park (throw-in 7pm, live on TV3) former hurlers from either county felt inclined yesterday to state that Shefflin, despite a foot injury that has kept him sidelined since December, could attempt a repeat of the 2010 All-Ireland final “comeback”.
He famously lasted just 12 minutes of that year’s defeat to Tipperary before his cruciate knee ligament gave way again.
“For Kilkenny to win they’ll have to have the great man back,” said 1993 All-Ireland winning Kilkenny captain Eddie O’Connor.
“Would I play Henry Shefflin? At this stage of the game I’d play a half-fit Henry Shefflin. We’re into July and there’s no point in waiting until you’re out of the championship. It’s like Barcelona without Messi.”
Of course, Barcelona fielded a clearly injured Messi during last season’s Champions League knock-out stages.
“In critical games you must have your top man on board. With Shefflin, I’ll go for Kilkenny by three or four points. Without him, I’ll go for Tipperary.
On the field
“If they get Shefflin and Fennelly on the field, they will win.
“From what I can gather, Shefflin has a better chance of playing.”
Tommy Walsh (shoulder), JJ Delaney (hamstring), Cillian Buckley (hand and ankle), TJ Reid (knee) and Jackie Tyrrell (hamstring) are further Kilkenny concerns.
“I’ve no idea what way he is feeling but if it is a close game it would be no surprise if he made an appearance,” said two-time Tipperary All-Ireland winner Pat Fox.
“Whatever Shefflin has within that team, I think they look up to him and when he is playing they seem to gel better. He is a huge loss.”