HENRY SHEFFLIN is braced for the "unique opportunity" ahead after his shock appointment as Galway senior hurling manager, having pipped red-hot favourite Davy Fitzgerald to the post in sensational fashion.
umours were widespread on Tuesday that Clare native Fitzgerald was set to take the Tribe reins with a Banner-heavy backroom team, but Shefflin is believed to have entered the equation at the 11th hour before being chosen to lead Galway forward.
Kilkenny legend Shefflin, the most decorated player in the game with 10 All-Ireland SHC titles and 11 All-Stars, was interviewed for the position earlier this week with his appointment formally announced tonight alongside high-regarded coach, and fellow Cat, Richie O'Neill, with the remainder of his backroom team to follow in the coming weeks.
"Managing the Galway senior hurlers presents a unique opportunity and we relish the exciting challenge ahead as we begin this journey. We look forward to working with the players, the county board, and the wider Galway GAA community over the coming years," Shefflin said in a Galway GAA statement.
The three-time Hurler of the Year led his native Ballyhale Shamrocks to successive All-Ireland club hurling titles in 2019-2020 during his first foray into management and the 42-year-old now takes the giant step into the inter-county game.
Shefflin is seen by many as the natural successor to Brian Cody whenever the Kilkenny boss calls time on his record-breaking reign, but his new appointment sees him collide with his former boss in next year's Leinster SHC.
Shefflin had said earlier this year“ that inter-county management was not something that appealed to him – "At this moment in time, no" – but that has clearly changed as he attempts to bring the west awake once again.
It will be intriguing to see whether Shefflin tries to coax former Hurler of the Year Joe Canning out of retirement, having hung up his boots in July, as all eyes turn to their 2022 campaign.
Shefflin's arrival puts an end to 35 successive years where Fitzgerald has been part of the inter-county game as either a player or a manager with the former Wexford boss now left out in the cold.