Shefflin: We have slipped
KILKENNY'S hurlers might be just a few short months away from immortality but Henry Shefflin believes they have regressed since their 2008 All-Ireland final demolition job on Waterford, WRITES DONNCHADH BOYLE.
Brian Cody's side had 23 points to spare over the Deise that day and despite winning last year's epic All-Ireland final against Tipperary, the Ballyhale man insists that his side have slipped.
"I think last year showed that we were very lucky in some of the games and it was a lot tighter than the year previous. The gap has definitely tightened and I think the league has shown that again. A couple of the teams have overtaken us and we're back a few steps from where we want to be," he said.
"If we are going to win it we're going to have to improve as the year goes on. It's hard to know. I think we have taken a step back, there's no doubt about that. Our performances over the last year and a half reflect that from where we were in 2008."
This season, Kilkenny conducted their most unspectacular league campaign in years.
The Ballyhale contingent was unavailable for an extended period and Shefflin, hoping to earn a record-breaking 10th All Star award, has yet to play a senior competitive game this season for the Cats as he heads into Sunday's Leinster semi-final tie with Dublin.
Kilkenny have been impressing in recent challenge games, most notably dismantling Waterford in a way that prompted John Mullane to comment that he felt the Leinster champions were back to the form of 2008, with the return of Noel Hickey after injury.
The Cats are just four games away from sealing their place as the greatest team in history but Shefflin again played down the pressure that will bring.
"We've been used to it with the three and the four (in-a-row). It's a cliche but it's the truth that we can only concentrate on June 20 (against Dublin). If we look any further than that it would be wrong. That's the way Brian approaches it."