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Sunday 22 October 2017

Henry Shefflin: I'll make a decision in the next few days

King Henry wins 14th All-Ireland but no word on future

Henry Shefflin, Ballyhale Shamrocks, gives a thumbs-up in celebration after his side's victory. AIB GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Club Championship Final, Ballyhale Shamrocks, Co Kilkenny, v Kilmallock, Co Limerick. Croke Park
Henry Shefflin, Ballyhale Shamrocks, gives a thumbs-up in celebration after his side's victory. AIB GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Club Championship Final, Ballyhale Shamrocks, Co Kilkenny, v Kilmallock, Co Limerick. Croke Park

VERY quickly, the day ceased to be about whether Ballyhale Shamrocks would win their sixth All-Ireland club title and more about whether Henry Shefflin's 14th All-Ireland at county, club and Under 21, would be his last.

"It's the perfect platform; to win an All-Ireland, a third with your club," he began, almost hinting at a decision of the grandest scale possible there and then outside the dressing-rooms underneath the Cusack Stand.

rocking

"But then," Shefflin added, checking his run, "you're saying to yourself that it's the end of March so the season is nearly over - it's really rocking on.

Shefflin explained he was "going to enjoy the celebrations for a day or two and then this weekend, I'm going to reflect on it and make my decision then within the next week.

But he acknowledged: "I have to make it and we can't put it off any longer."

He repeated, however, as he stood, back against the Ballyhale Shamrocks teams bus, that he had genuinely yet to arrive at a decision.

"There are occasions when one of the lads (retires) and you say to yourself 'will I go?'. Then you watch a match and you say 'will I stay?'.

"People ask was today a factor, but it wasn't. I would love to have been going out and scoring five points, but it wasn't about me - it was about Ballyhale winning."

And win they did. Handsomely. It's something of a curiosity about the AIB All-Ireland club SHC that over the 10 finals previous to yesterday's, the average winning margin was over eight points.

Killmallock just didn't look much like roadkill going into yesterday but by the end of the afternoon, they had tire marks all over their backs.

Ten first-half wides killed them, a sorry figure attributable in part to their lack of familiarity with their environs, according to Ger O'Loughlin.

"We were saying that it's so different, it's so wide and long, and it was a disadvantage when you consider Ballyhale have so many Kilkenny players who are here every year," he noted.

So good are Ballyhale though, Killmallock required everything to go their way.

Joey Holden, this summer's Kilkenny captain, destroyed two non-functioning full-forwards and in TJ Reid, Ballyhale always had a sticky paw at which to aim.

And when Colin Fennelly roofed a goal on half-time to put the margin at five points, Killmallock were certain to write another blank chapter in Limerick teams' All-Ireland final scrapbook.

Indeed Shefflin, who scored two points from play, didn't ever have to summon the outer extremities of his genius.

"I was a little bit apprehensive coming up to the match," he admitted. "But I think this year the vibe was right and a lot of things just fell into place."

And with that, he was off. Decisions to make.

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