Saturday 18 November 2017

Shefflin: 'Management doesn't attract me - there are more aspects to life'

Henry Shefflin (Naoise Culhane)
Henry Shefflin (Naoise Culhane)

Michael Verney

He will go down as one of the greatest hurlers of all time, but the lure of coaching and management doesn't appeal to Henry Shefflin right now as he enjoys a fruitful career outside the white lines.

After announcing his retirement last March, many predicted that Shefflin would embark on a coaching career and possibly succeed 11-time All-Ireland-winning manager Brian Cody when he steps out of the Kilkenny fold.

With former team-mates DJ Carey and Eddie Brennan already working with IT Carlow and the Kilkenny U-21s, it's surprising that no job offers have come Shefflin's way with his coaching experience limited to the Ballyhale's U-8 side.

The 37-year-old, who recently made a return to club football, believes coaching cannot be combined with playing and instead is investing time to carve out a successful business career, combined with hurling punditry. A future in coaching is far from guaranteed for him.

"It's not inevitable that I'll leave the punditry to take up a coaching role, absolutely not. As I stood out of the bubble I realised there are more aspects to life," Shefflin, the Bank of Ireland head of customer recruitment, said at the launch of their Responsible Business Report.

"You think, 'Yeah I could follow the trend where you go coaching', but you don't have to do that. Sometimes you think you have to because you were a good player, you won All-Irelands, you have to go into coaching. Not necessarily.

"You know there are other avenues, like my career now is becoming very important to me and I think that sometimes we lose sight of that when we're in that bubble playing, everything is about sport."

Recently-retired rugby great Paul O'Connell reasoned that while coaching attracts him some days, other times he would rather be somewhere else, and Shefflin is of similar mind. He sees more to retirement than immersing yourself into becoming a full-time coach.

His inter-county experience has shaped his personality and he feels many of the competitive traits can be transferred across to the business world. "You can do different things with your sporting skills learned on the field," he said.

"There is a great crossover between business and sport - management styles, leadership styles are very prevalent in the working environment, the business world. That has opened my eyes.

"It's very similar to managing teams so it's not the straight track that you have to go. I'd love to coach the young fellas, enjoy that bit of fun and see where it takes you then. For the moment I don't have any interest in that (management)."

With League action kicking off last weekend, the 11-time All-Star feels the Cats will "come on a tonne" from their defeat to Waterford and expects a keen battle with old rivals Tipperary this Sunday.

Clare's acquisition of his former 'Sunday Game' colleague Dónal Óg Cusack has also sparked his interest and Shefflin expects the dynamic between "deep thinkers" Cusack and Davy Fitzgerald to entertain.

"Of course I was surprised yeah," he said. "Then when you kind of think about it, 'Are you surprised?' He wasn't going to get a job in Cork presently so it's a great opportunity for Dónal if he can do something good with this Clare team.

"You're going into a place where there's a good quality of player, it's not like he's going somewhere where he's going to struggle.

"They have the players and they definitely have the quality to be successful. There is a great opportunity to succeed and they're coming from a low base."

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