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Sunday 20 April 2014

Cyril Farrell: It would be a terrible way for King Henry to bow out

Record-breaker Shefflin not a dirty hurler and deserves to go on his own terms

Cork and Kilkenny players scuffle during their quarter-final clash in Semple Stadium

IF yesterday is to be the last we see of Henry Shefflin in black and amber then it will be a terrible way for a great career to end.

This Kilkenny team don't owe anything to anybody, they have been the best hurling team of all time. Brian Cody is the greatest manager of all time.

Shefflin is not a dirty hurler, but you could see his frustration mounting through the first-half.

He was coming back, he was denied a perfectly good point (where's Hawk-Eye when you need him?) and things weren't happening for him as he tried and ultimately failed to get to the pitch of the game.

Barry Kelly's decision to send him off was a bit harsh. The referees are going after tackles around the neck, but when you're a tall player tackling a smaller man it is a difficult thing to do.

Time waits for no player though. Nobody has the right to hold on to the jersey for life.

Henry is the greatest, but all careers come to an end and if he goes out this way it will be sad. Retirement is part of life.

In Cork, we had former players coming out and criticising Jimmy Barry-Murphy about dropping their old team-mates. The Rebels manager is a gentleman. He is a great manager and coach and those former players should know that a manager is entitled to choose who he wants.

Youth

He wanted a young team, he decided at the start to give youth a chance. The players who were left out gave great service, but you don't get to decide – that's up to the manager.

You are there to pass on the jersey to the next generation, the manager does too. Kilkenny are not going to die, the black and amber will endure.

It is not just Shefflin who is nearing the end, there will be a lot of players watching to see what Cody does next. They owe nothing to hurling or Kilkenny.

They have been wonderful ambassadors, it was noticeable to see Richie Power, who was concussed, running on to get a Cork jersey.

The Rebels played well, they were intelligent and kept the ball movement. They got ahead early and kept Kilkenny on the back foot. They are lovely hurlers. It was a good game of hurling.

The Rebels were well able to execute the short game and once they had the extra man after Shefflin's sending off they were able to exploit it. They are in the semi-final on merit.

They got the match-ups perfect, Shane O'Neill went in on Richie Hogan and they won all of the little duels they needed to. It wasn't Kilkenny's day. Everybody put them to the pin of their collars this season and, eventually, the dam broke.

In the second game at Semple Stadium, Clare came with a game plan and they stuck with it. They dropped Conor Ryan back into the defence and they played with five forwards. They stuck to their gameplan and it worked.

Galway fans were hoping to see the team click after last year's success, but it never really happened. That day didn't appear this year, we were left waiting. We travelled in hope rather than confidence, they tried hard but they never really got to grips with Clare who set their pattern on the game and, once they got in front, never looked back.

Anthony Cunningham's men haven't played well all year. Six changes from the Leinster final was a lot for them to deal with and after two years the management don't seem to know their best team.

They took a giant step forward last year, but this year is two back and you would have to question where the county goes from here.

That's for the winter, now we must focus on this novel All-Ireland semi-final line-up.

What odds would you have gotten on the so-called top three of Kilkenny, Tipperary and Galway all being out by August.

It has had a rejuvenating impact on hurling and to have Dublin play Cork and Limerick take on Clare in the semi-finals is refreshing.

We will have new winners. The Rebels have not won for a while but if any of the other three won Liam MacCarthy the place will go mad.

Croke Park will be rammed.

All four will get together now and think, 'we can win this'. There are no favourites, it is wide open and it will be great to watch.

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