Shefflin ready for cruciate surgery
Henry Shefflin will have surgery to repair possibly the most talked about cruciate ligament in Irish sport within the next two weeks.
Shefflin limped out of the All-Ireland hurling final against Tipperary three and a half weeks ago after aggravating the tear that had cast his participation in the decider in doubt for so long.
He lasted just 13 minutes, but with the swelling on the knee diminishing he is preparing to enter hospital for corrective surgery over the next two weeks.
"He's going in shortly. The date hasn't been finalised, but he's had to wait for the swelling to go down. It's only a matter of time," said Kilkenny selector Martin Fogarty.
Shefflin has been back with his Waterford-based surgeon Mr Tadhg O'Sullivan for further consultation since the All-Ireland final and, once surgery is completed, he will be out of action for up to eight months.
It will be the second operation to repair a torn cruciate ligament in three years for Shefflin, who came back better than ever after his 2007 procedure.
Ironically, John Tennyson, who also sustained cruciate ligament damage in this year's championship and, like Shefflin, underwent extensive rehabilitation prior to the final to allow him to play, was in top form for Carrickshock as they surged into the Kilkenny semi-finals.
Shefflin's colleague Richie Power said yesterday that that no one will ever know the limits the former Hurler of the Year pushed himself to in order to be ready for the final.
"Henry was unfortunate after what he put his body through to get himself right to play in that All-Ireland," said Power, the August recipient of the Opel GPA Hurler of the Month award.
"I don't think anyone will ever know the full extent that he pushed himself to; just like John Tennyson.
"Unfortunately it was a strong possibility that it could happen -- a breakdown at any stage -- once he had taken to the field.
"We all knew this at the back of our minds. It was the same with John Tennyson.
"But it just goes to show -- because John Tennyson got through the game okay and Henry only lasted 10 minutes. It was a toss of a coin really," reflected Power.
"I have no doubt that he will come back stronger than ever, because that is the way Henry is.
"He has proved that over previous years. He came back stronger than ever after his last cruciate operation.
"There is definitely another couple of years in Henry and we will be delighted to see him back next year."
Power insisted that other players like himself must continue to assume leadership roles if Kilkenny are to remain as competitive as they have been for so long under Brian Cody's management.
"Henry has proven over the last 10 or 11 years what a great leader he is on the field. In the Cork game, when he went off, it was up to maybe the younger lads, including myself and a few more, to finally step up to the plate and not always be looking for Henry to do something or show the leadership that he always shows anyway.
"It was my sixth year on the panel and it was maybe about time that I took over a bit of the leadership and started really helping the team.
"We managed to do it against Cork and I think the lads that came on after Henry went off against Tipperary did as well as anyone could expect.
"We fell short on the day and have no excuses and no complaints."
Tennyson is not expected to have surgery on his cruciate unless he suffers a breakdown similar to Shefflin's.
Kildare's Dermot Earley enters hospital on Friday for surgery on his cruciate and, like Shefflin, won't see any action until next year's Leinster championship at the earliest.
Power admits that Kilkenny's quest for five in a row was on their minds.
"The whole five-in-a-row thing was there at the back of everyone's mind. It would have been nice, but I don't think we will ever see another attempt at it, or I won't anyway," he admitted.