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Paul Shefflin: Henry’s ‘inseparable’ brother, a Ballyhale legend and the life of the party

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Paul Shefflin celebrates with the trophy after winning the Leinster club title with Ballyhale Shamrocks in 2014. Image credit: Sportsfile.

Paul Shefflin celebrates with the trophy after winning the Leinster club title with Ballyhale Shamrocks in 2014. Image credit: Sportsfile.

Paul Shefflin celebrates with the trophy after winning the Leinster club title with Ballyhale Shamrocks in 2014. Image credit: Sportsfile.

Andy Moloney has spoken of his shock at the sudden loss of Paul Shefflin, his friend that he first encountered as a playing colleague in Waterford IT and who hurled on the Moloney-managed Ballyhale Shamrocks team that defeated Kilmallock in the All-Ireland club final in 2015.

Shefflin collapsed and died while out running on Friday, leaving a wife and four children.

“A loveable rogue, that is the only way I could describe him," said Moloney. "He’d be the life and soul of a party. You’d have a great laugh with him, a great laugh at him. He loved the slag, loved getting the rise out of someone. Ah look we’re very upset.”

Moloney is on a WhatsApp group which included Paul Shefflin, formed by a group of friends who hurled together for Waterford IT when they won back-to-back Fitzgibbon titles in 1999 and 2000. Paul Curran, Eamon Corcorcan, Damien Joyce, Ollie Moran and Mikey Bevans are others involved in the group, all of them left equally stunned by the news.

“Myself, Eamonn Corcoran were in one year, then Henry (Shefflin) came along the year after, and the year after that Paul came along,” says Moloney. “By the time we all got to ’99 and 2000 we were all on the one panel together. Sure we were really friendly from that day on, we’d still meet up.

“Paul was a great character, Jesus he is going to be missed. Even in our little group we have with all the boys, there could be 15-20 lads on it but Paul would be the character, he’d be throwing in an oul grenade to just to get things going. Ah it’s very sad. Sad for his family. Aoife (wife) and the four kids. Old Henry and Mai (Paul Shefflin's parents). We’re devastated. One minute you’d be grand, next minute you’d be crying. That’s the way it is now.

“Henry and himself were very close, like twin brothers really. Henry was just above him in age but, it’s gas, even though Henry would be older, Paul would be a good sounding board for Henry the whole time. Sure they were inseparable when they were together.”

Seven years ago they shared a special moment when Ballyhale Shamrocks won the Tommy Moore Cup. Paul Shefflin played in the half back line, having captained Kilkenny as a minor in 1998 when they were defeated by Cork in the All-Ireland final. That day he was corner back beside Noel Hickey, who went on to become a towering presence in the Kilkenny senior teams that followed.

But in 2015, nearing the end of his playing days, he was playing in the half back line. “We moved him out to wing back and he was like a man reborn, he was flying it for us all year,” says Moloney.

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“I’d say both himself and Bob Aylward were the two best club hurlers we had really. Bob was playing wing back with Michael Fennelly centre and Paul the other wing. Sure they were just a colossus really in the half back line.

"He was corner back the whole time playing for Ballyhale, We felt by moving him out the wing he would read the game better. He excelled.

“I know I suppose Henry’s name precedes him but Paul was a very accomplished hurler in his own right.”

Moloney explained that Shefflin was rooted in his parish. “Paul is going to be a huge loss to the Ballyhale community, he was really liked. And for the players, he will be a huge loss to them. He lived across the road from his mother and father and he was only up the road from the village, sure he was an ever-present really.

“We’re upset obviously to lose a friend, but upset for his whole family, upset for (brothers) Henry, Tommy, John, the three girls (his sisters).”

Paul Shefflin won his first senior county medal in 2006, the first of four county titles in a row for the club. They went on to capture Leinster and All-Ireland titles that season. He won a second All-Ireland club medal in 2010 when Ballyhale defeated Portumna in the final.


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