Confirmed: Galway name Henry Shefflin as their new hurling manager

Fellow Kilkenny man Richie O’Neill will be joining Tribesmen as coach

Henry Shefflin is expected to be named as the new Galway hurling manager. Photograph: Tom O’Hanlon/inpho

Henry Shefflin is expected to be named as the new Galway hurling manager. Photograph: Tom O’Hanlon/inpho

 

Henry Shefflin is the new Galway hurling manager. The announcement came on Wednesday and was a surprise given that this is a first intercounty appointment for the GAA’s most decorated player.

In a statement released on Wednesday evening Galway GAA said they were “delighted to announce Henry Shefflin as the new Galway hurling manager” and revealed that his “fellow county man Richie O’Neill” will be joining as his coach.

The balance the management team “will be finalised in the coming weeks”. This “appointment to our flagship team underpins our immediate ambition,” added Galway GAA.

Shefflin is quoted in the statement: “Managing the Galway senior hurlers presents a unique opportunity and we relish the exciting challenge ahead as we begin this journey. We look forward to working with the players, the county board and the wider Galway GAA community over the coming years.”

He was chosen from a field of candidates that included Brian Hanley and Jeffrey Lynskey, who have had great success with Galway minor teams, winners of four of the past five All-Irelands and David Fitzgerald, who managed Clare to the 2013 All-Ireland and who also had charge of Waterford and Wexford.

Fitzgerald had been inaccurately reported on Tuesday as having got the Galway job.

Although there had been rumours in recent weeks that Shefflin was under consideration the other candidates appeared more likely once the county’s All-Ireland winning manager Micheál Donoghue ruled out a return to the role.

One of the greatest hurlers in the history of the game, Henry Shefflin won 10 All-Irelands with his county plus three Hurler of the Year citations (2002, 2006 and 2012). With his club Ballyhale Shamrocks, he was also an All-Ireland winner as a player (three times, 2007, 2010 and 201515) and as a manager (2019 and ‘20).

He stepped down as Shamrocks manager shortly after the second All-Ireland, having been appointed for – and serving – two years.

Shefflin, who is 42, let it be known that he wouldn’t manage a club likely to be in competition with Ballyhale and has been working with Thomastown this season.

They contest the county intermediate semi-finals this month.

He comes into Galway at a time of uncertainty. Shane O’Neill, his predecessor, served for two disappointing years in which the team, champions in 2017, failed to win Leinster or reach an All-Ireland final.

Since their All-Ireland success they have seen Limerick become the dominant team in the championship despite both years appearing to be the best placed team to challenge. Team talisman Joe Canning retired after the summer elimination by Waterford in the qualifiers.

The age profile of the team is quite advanced and a rebuilding programme is on the cards but given the quality of players available and the wealth of minor talent in recent years, that won’t be a hopeless challenge.

Three of the past six Galway managers have been from outside the county, Ger Loughnane and O’Neill before Shefflin – four if you count former Tipperary hurler John McIntyre but he has lived most of his adult life in Galway. It represents a fair old commute from Ballyhale.

Although he undertook not to manage teams against Ballyhale, a similar undertaking at county level wasn’t realistic if he wanted a career in intercounty management.

Brian Cody has been 23 years in the Kilkenny position and with no prospects of a vacancy, any promising coaches and managers have had to move elsewhere to pick up county experience. Shefflin joins club-mate Michael Fennelly, who guided Offaly to Christy Ring Cup success this year, and David Herity, Kildare manager, as Kilkenny men operating elsewhere.

Another former team-mate Eddie Brennan had similar experience with Laois. Galway is, though, not an unattractive place to start a top-level management career.

All going to plan, Kilkenny will travel to Pearse Stadium next summer in the Leinster round-robin championship to face Galway.

As Ballyhale manager he was well regarded as a smart, capable manager, “very considered,” in the words of one source, “not in any way off the cuff”. Galway supporters will be happy if Shefflin can bring the county two successive years, undefeated in championship, as he did with his club.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.