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Friday 15 December 2017

Brian Cody: Ten medals is just 'mind boggling'

Kilkenny manager toasts record-breaking Shefflin

7 September 2014; Henry Shefflin, Kilkenny, in action against Conor O'Mahony, Tipperary. GAA Hurling All Ireland Senior Championship Final Replay, Kilkenny v Tipperary. Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
7 September 2014; Henry Shefflin, Kilkenny, in action against Conor O'Mahony, Tipperary. GAA Hurling All Ireland Senior Championship Final Replay, Kilkenny v Tipperary. Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
27 September 2014; Kilkenny's Henry Shefflin celebrates with his son Henry after the game. GAA Hurling All Ireland Senior Championship Final Replay, Kilkenny v Tipperary. Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

THEY'VE been locked at the hip right through this run of stunning success so it was fitting that when Brian Cody came in to address the tedious task of articulating a tenth All-Ireland win to gathered media, Henry Shefflin arrived a few moments later.

"Henry's achievement is the one to talk about," said Cody, deflecting from his own gargantuan, almost implausible accomplishment, though meaning every word.

"The manager is still as young as ever. The player himself gets older and it is a different thing.

"He is challenged in every single possible way from a physical point of view because he has gone through the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune with injury.

"And to be here still at this level and be challenging for his place and then to have the absolutely deserved, I won't say privileged, because he deserved what he achieved.

"To win his tenth All-Ireland on the field of play is just mind-boggling stuff, Cody added, giving Shefflin's feat some perspective.

"I thought for a while it might never be done again but there are a few lads coming behind him, who are keeping up as well. It is a magnificent time for Henry and some of the other players."

Ten All-Irelands.

One clear of Noel Skehan, Noel Hickey, Tommy Walsh and JJ Delaney.

Double digits for celtic crosses. The stuff of wild fantasy.

"I'd love to say it felt different," began Shefflin in attempting to analyse his emotion on the day he official became the most storied hurler since Cú Chulainn.

"But it didn't feel any different at all. At that stage all you want is for Brian Gavin to blow the whistle so that you are AIl-Ireland champions.

"It's just self-satisfaction and relief that its finally over and you are champions.

"All the other stuff can follow on and people can talk about it, it looks good in headlines and stuff but to be part of that. We always speak about it, it's that feeling....subs and extended panel, when they come flying onto the field, lads like Geoff Brennan and Joe Brennan, brothers who are not able to tog out unfortunately, they do as much as we do and every other county team has those players as well so it's about that moment, yes, it's worthwhile for us all."

And you could argue with some justification that had Shefflin's summer not been truncated with injury, he would have held onto his starting spot, but even that seems irrelevant now.

The scary thing, as alluded to Cody above, is not just that Shefflin now possesses ten All-Ireland medals, but that he's in danger of being the shortest holder of the most impressive record of all time.

JJ Delaney won his ninth medal on Saturday night,

Not just that, he was responsible for perhaps the most memorable moment of the match, a first half hook on Seamus Callanan that denied the Tipp speedster an almost certain goal.

mourned

"Magnificent defending," was how Cody described it.

"Magnificent piece of defending. As we are so often told, our defenders are slow, and JJ Delaney who at this stage can't run," he added, poking fun at those who had mourned in print the pacing of Delaney's pace.

"To get back and hook who is a natural speed merchant. But we have worked a lot on speed with the boys and to keep them quick.

"You got to know what you are writing about when you are writing those things. You want to realise that it doesn't work like that."

JJ's memory of the moment was tinged with typical modesty.

"I knew I wasn't going to catch him for pace anyway, I wasn't going to run back past him," he laughed afterwards.

"I kept him at a hurley's length because I knew he had to throw it up and hit it, it was just being in the right place at

the right time."

"Nine at the moment but you're just looking ahead to the next one all the time," he added, in something of an ominous tone.

And while Cody sought to spread credit in different directions, he had just watched another All-Ireland final replay where the adjustment to his team for the drawn game had paid rich dividends.

Kieran Joyce? Pádraig Walsh? John Power?

Each worked a treat.

Only in Kilkenny could a hurler like Joyce come from the periphery all season to star in an All-Ireland final.

"That's what we expected to happen," he shrugged.

solace

"The three boys who started the last day and didn't start this day could have done the same. That's the call,. you make a call and that's it.

"We have a strong panel and we expected the lads to play well the last day because the rest are playing well. You do what you have to do and that's the way it works."

For Eamon O'Shea, the day was understandably tough but one he could reflect upon with some solace.

"I know you are expected to win when you come here. I am not trying to minimise that. We tried hard to win, we came up here to win, but I do think there are more important things," he said.

"The important things I believe are the men down in that dressing room who fought the battle to the end, who didn't flinch, who when things didn't go their way kept going.

"That is my understanding of sport. Sometimes you don't always win. I said to them when Tipperary play now we really try until it is no longer possible.

"The players can be proud of that. They are shattered they didn't win," O'Shea concluded. "I'm shattered."

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