Retirement decision delayed as Henry Shefflin focuses on next goal
Kilkenny legend to reveal his future plans after club final against Kilmallock
Henry Shefflin: “I’ve been going well, and feeling good in the club campaign.” Photo: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho
It may well be that Shefflin hasn’t actually made his mind up yet, although he isn’t revealing anything until after Ballyhale Shamrocks complete their current run at next month’s All-Ireland club hurling final.
He may be 36 Shefflin but it doesn’t sound like age will influence his decision whether or not to play on with Kilkenny, and seek a possible 11th All-Ireland title. His performance last Saturday week, as Ballyhale eased past Gort to set up a St Patrick’s Day showdown against Limerick champions Kilmallock, proved age is merely a number – he scored 0-5, and earned himself the man-of-the-match award.
“But that result won’t influence my decision, either. People might think if you win, it will be a nice way to go, but it won’t. All my previous team-mates who left said the same thing, it was their own circumstances.”
“I’ve been going well, and feeling good in the club campaign. I didn’t go on the Kilkenny team holiday (to Miami), we played a few challenge matches and I enjoyed it, I got a very good run in training, felt very fit and strong. I knew myself I was in good shape and it didn’t surprise me because I had put those performances in during the challenge matches as well.
“But everyone attaches so much to age. Bob Aylward (also 36) didn’t have a great game in the Leinster final and people said ‘oh, his age, he’s behind it’ but he was brilliant in the All-Ireland semi-final so he’s a great lad again. If a younger player does that kind of performance, there’s nothing said about it. He just had a bad day, or a good day.
“But to be honest, I really didn’t think I would still be here in February, saying the same thing, but I think it’s brilliant that I am in this position.
“It’s very lucky for me and my club that we are still going. I said I would put my complete focus into the club and I think that’s why I have enjoyed it so much. Because I am really embracing it and enjoying the challenge and trying to get the best out of myself now while I can.”
“People on the street will mention “ah, stay on” or “leave now – it’s the right time to go”. That’s people’s opinion. I’m used to it at this stage, whether they are advising you on hurling or whatever. So it goes in one ear and out the other. You take everyone’s opinion but it’s your own decision.”
Yet surely he has given his future ample thought?
“And it’s not as simple as playing one good match or going out on Paddy’s Day and saying “you played poorly, oh no you can’t”. It’s a whole decision: family, work, my own circumstances as well as Kilkenny’s circumstances and the manager’s circumstances – all of these things come in to play. You’re not going to make a rash decision on one game.”
The wait continues.