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Thursday 14 December 2017

Henry Shefflin: 'I still haven't decided on my future'

Kilkenny legend won't let result of club final effect his decision whether or to not retire

Kilkenny manager Brian Cody has revealed he will not be contacting Henry Shefflin about his future. Photo: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
Kilkenny manager Brian Cody has revealed he will not be contacting Henry Shefflin about his future. Photo: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
Henry Shefflin
Henry Shefflin

HE says he's not quite sick of people asking, but then Henry Shefflin always has been a pretty polished public performer.

"In one ear and out the other," he shrugs. "You take everyone's opinion but it's your own decision."

Shefflin is conducting interview number umpteen since the conquest of a 10th All-Ireland medal and is thus, answering for the millionth time some version or other of the 'will you retire?' question from assembled media types in Lansdowne Road as part of a promotional appearance.

As ever, consistency is Shefflin's strong point, even in a conversation he's had many, many, many times before.

He is, he repeats, utterly involved, focused and concerned with Ballyhale Shamrocks' All-Ireland club final against Limerick's Kilmallock on St Patrick's Day.

He hasn't, he re-reiterates, formulated a decision whether or not to continue the most epic inter-county career of all time into a 17th season and thus take up the pursuit of an 11th Celtic Cross.

But still...

If you were to stake a bet, you'd take Shefflin at almost any odds to be back in black and amber this summer.

Though 36, he still seems too fresh to be looking for a spot on the inter-county scrapheap.

And then there's the compelling evidence of his most recent performance (five points from play against Gort in the All-Ireland club semi-final plus the TG4 Man of the Match award)

"If I was very much struggling with the club and not at the pace of the game, everyone would know then what the answer is going to be.

"It's different when you're enjoying it," he explains. "I'm injury free. So I don't know.

"I'm really enjoying playing with the club. I've got a great buzz out of the club campaign. That might be because I didn't play much last year. It's a different environment being a sub. I don't think any of us like being a sub.

"If you get a feel for playing, you want to stay playing."

So why wait?

"Because I wanted to see when my club campaign was over," he stresses.

NOT AS SIMPLE

"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."

"People might think if you win (on St Patrick's Day), 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.So it will be the same thing."

And when, approximately, does he anticipate a) making the decision and b) announcing it?

"Look, I won't be ringing ya the following day," Shefflin laughs. "I don't know. To be honest, I would imagine within a couple of weeks I'll definitely have a decision made.

"And I'll have to, because obviously at that stage it's the end of March so it's getting fairly serious then."

Were he to elect to stay on, Shefflin would find a manager receptive to such a call.

Yet, perhaps mildly surprisingly, Brian Cody said last week that he had not attempted to dissuade JJ Delaney from his retirement and would not be inclined to do so for any other player.

"That's the way it is," says Shefflin, not remotely surprised.

"Brian very much leaves it up to the individuals themselves. And I think that's the right way to go about it.

"Because if JJ is forced back to do something, he won't get the same enjoyment out of it.

"I know from talking to JJ he really enjoyed last year," Shefflin continues.

"That's the thing, if you are happy in your own skin with the decision, whether you go or you stay, whatever may happen after that, you've made the decision.

"That's the right way to do it," concludes the Ballyhale Shamrocks man.

KILKENNY HURLING

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