Michael Fennelly welcomes likely return of Henry Shefflin after injury woes

‘I’d say he’s 90 per cent sure at this stage but I’d say he is hopefully coming back because he would be a big asset’

Michael Fennelly: the Kilkenny man hopes to be back for the league following his return from Australia. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Michael Fennelly: the Kilkenny man hopes to be back for the league following his return from Australia. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Thu, Nov 21, 2013, 01:00

Former Hurler of the Year Michael Fennelly has welcomed the likely return of record All-Ireland winner Henry Shefflin to the Kilkenny team for next season. Shefflin, whose 2013 was destroyed by injury, attended some pre-season county screening a few days ago.

“Yeah,” said Fennelly, “he did a bit of testing there at the weekend so I think he is going to go ahead next year. I don’t know – I’d say he’s 90 per cent sure at this stage but I’d say he is hopefully coming back because he would be a big asset.

“His presence alone to have in the dressing-room is huge so fingers crossed his injuries clear up and everything so he can be fresh and hit the ground running next year.”

Asked was everyone coming back for 2014, the Ballyhale player was optimistic. “From what I gather – you might get a late lad leaving but from what I gather most lads are happy enough. Some lads are in their early 30s so they are quite young, I don’t think they are gone past it yet.

“A lot of us are going to finish our careers in the next couple of years so at this stage it’s the last couple of years left. They mean so much, so we’re taking every year now as if it could be our last.”

Slowly convalescing
Asked about his own injury problems which similarly to Shefflin wrecked the season just gone, Fennelly – who is to spend the next couple of months furthering his strength and conditioning studies thesis for UL by spending time with the Swans AFL club in Sydney – said that his ankle problem, which he exacerbated by going back training with the club, was slowly convalescing.

“I only took off the boot during the week so just back walking now, taking baby steps at the moment and being fairly careful with it.”

He hopes to be back for the league on his return from Australia in early February.

Diagnosed
Meanwhile former Antrim football captain Anto Finnegan, who played for the county between 1994 and 2005, has revealed that was diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease 15 months ago. The former St Paul’s player, who remains an active coach of under-age teams with his club, has taken the decision to make his condition public because he feels more awareness of the disease is needs to be developed and he has founded deterMND – Tackling Motor Neuron Disease to promote that awareness.

“Very early on,” he said in a statement, “we realised there was little awareness about this condition. It affects two in 1,000 people so it doesn’t have the same recognition as other conditions. With that in mind, and also because everything the Motor Neuron Disease Association does in relation to research has to be funded through a charity or people’s donations, we decided that once we wanted to do something positive.”