Wednesday 21 February 2018

Video: Every county has doubts over the spine of their team - Irish Independent's Henry Shefflin Newsdesk Newsdesk

New Irish Independent columnist Henry Shefflin has predicted who he feels will take the honours in the Munster, Leinster and All-Ireland championships.

Kilkenny will have to make changes to the spine of their team after the retirements of Brian Hogan and, in particular, JJ Delaney and retired Cats legend Henry Shefflin believes ever county has similar issues to remedy.

The 36-year-old, who will write exclusively for the Irish Independent from tomorrow, believes which ever team gets the central positions in their team sorted could lift Liam McCarthy in September.

"My heart but I think my head as well (goes for Kilkenny), if they can get everybody on the field, and JJ's position is a big call," he told Vincent Hogan.

"It goes for a lot of teams, the spine of the team, up the centre, a lot of teams have to resolve that and whoever gets it sussed and gets that strong spine will have a great chance of winning it."

As for the provinces: "The first game between Limerick and Clare is going to be a great game to start the championship I would imagine. However wins will have to play Tipperary.

"On the other side you have the rematch of the league final between Cork and Waterford.

"My gut is telling me that Tipp will want to win this Munster championship, they need to get a national title under their belt with Eamon O'Shea.

"After last year's loss and the disappointment of the league, they will be hungry. I would pick them to be Munster champions.

"I  hope that Kilkenny would get over Wexford, more than likely Wexford, in the Leinster semi-final.

"After Wexford's performance last year, it would be interesting to see if they do push on and if they do, going to Nowlan Park will be something ver difficult for them but something they'll relish.

"Kilkenny will be very much on their guard for that, they do not take counties like that for granted

"You'd be expecting Dublin or Galway to come from the other side of it.

"On form, you would pick Dublin but I wouldn't write off Galway. They can perform to a very high level but I just feel whoever comes through, Kilkenny will be very focused on the direct route. that's always the way with Brian to win everything you can for as long as you can.

"I would fancy Kilkenny to win the Leinster championship."

Shefflin announced his retirement on March 25 and admits that he has enjoyed the increased family time but is dreading when the Cats return to championship action.

"There has been a lot going on over the past few weeks but the good thing for me is that Kilkenny weren't straight into the Championship," he added.

"We're all looking forward to the championship, as any spectator would be. I suppose the big thing for me will be when Kilkenny begin playing and I'll really miss it I'd imagine.

"They are not playing until June 21, so I've had a few weeks to get my head around not being involved.

"It's been a bit funny but it won't really kick in until Kilkenny start playing but otherwise it's been very good, there is a lot more time to be at home with the family.

"I'm really, really enjoying that aspect of it."

Two-time All-Ireland winner with Tyrone, Peter Canavan, has also joined the team at the Irish Independent.

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