Vincent Hogan: My may not appreciate 'King Henry' until he is gone
Published 13/06/2011 | 08:09
Brian Cody smiled a smile that stored an ocean of small secrets. He said that Henry Shefflin's return was important: "I think for everybody". And as he stood there, the sunny commotion of Wexford Park ebbing to a resigned clatter, you knew that he was talking about more than a hurler.
In the 13 seasons through which Cody has guided Kilkenny, only Shefflin has started every championship game. Their stories are tethered so tightly together, one without the other is all but unimaginable now. Shefflin was relatively quiet against Wexford on Saturday evening, his contribution restricted largely to a nerveless exhibition of free-taking. Yet, his very presence on the Kilkenny team-sheet signalled a triumph for what Cody termed "the lonely hours of just working away on his own". A second ruptured cruciate ligament in three seasons had to explore Shefflin's resilience to a depth not many men of his vintage could reasonably expect to withstand.