Thursday 14 November 2019

'We were having breakfast, and I got an inkling Henry was thinking of retirement'

Henry Shefflin and wife Deirdre visit the Irish Wheelchair Association in Kilkenny city to present the boots the hurling legend wore in the 2014 All-Ireland hurling final. Henry had donated the boots for auction for the local branch of the IWA. Tipperary man Joe Fitzpatrick paid €2,000 for them and is hoping they will be used in the proposed hurling museum in Kilkenny
Henry Shefflin and wife Deirdre visit the Irish Wheelchair Association in Kilkenny city to present the boots the hurling legend wore in the 2014 All-Ireland hurling final. Henry had donated the boots for auction for the local branch of the IWA. Tipperary man Joe Fitzpatrick paid €2,000 for them and is hoping they will be used in the proposed hurling museum in Kilkenny
Henry Shefflin, Kilkenny, celebrates after scoring his side's second goal in their All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final win over Waterford in 2009
Kilkenny's Henry Shefflin lifts the Liam MacCarthy cup with Darragh McGarry, son of James McGarry, right. Guinness All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Final, Kilkenny v Limerick in 2007
Kilkenny captain Henry Shefflin holds the Leinster Senior Cup as Wexford players make their way to their dressing room. Guinness Leinster Senior Hurling Championship Final in 2007
Kilkenny Hurler Henry Shefflin married Deirdre O'Sullivan at Callan, Co. Kilkenny in 2007. Photo Patrick Browne Jnr
Ballyhale Shamrocks players Tom Coogan, left, and Henry Shefflin lift the Tommy Moore Cup after the AIB All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling Championship Final in 2007. Picture credit: Brian Lawless / SPORTSFILE
David Fitzgerald, Clare, squares up to Henry Shefflin, Kilkenny, watched by team-mates Frank Lohan (2) and Sean McMahon, Clare. Allianz National Hurling League, Division 1 Final in 2005
Henry Shefflin, Kilkenny, commiserates with Cork players, l to r, Ronan Curran, John Gardiner, Kieran Murphy, Sarsfields, Wayne Sherlock, Sean Og O hAilpin and Donal Og Cusack. Guinness All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Final in 2006
Henry Shefflin, Kilkenny, scores a last minute point. Guinness All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship, Semi-Final, Kilkenny v Clare, Croke Park, Dublin in 2006. Picture credit; Damien Eagers / SPORTSFILE
Donal Og Cusack, Cork, in action against Henry Shefflin, Kilkenny during the 2004 All-Ireland final
Kilkenny's Henry Shefflin leaves the field with an eye injury during the Guinness All-Ireland Hurling Championship Quarter Final Replay against Clare in 2004
The Kilkenny doctor Tadhg Crowley attends to Henry Shefflin as referee Pat Horan and Clare's Gerry Quibb look on during their All-Ireland Hurling Championship Quarter Final Replay at Semple Stadium in 2004
Kilkenny's Henry Shefflin lifts the Liam MacCarthy cup after the All-Ireland victory over Clare in 2002
Kilkenny's Henry Shefflin shoots to score his side's goal despite the presence of Stephen Byrne, left and Kevin Martin, Offaly in the 2000 All Ireland Hurling Championship Final. Picture credit: Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE
Henry Shefflin, Kilkenny, in action against Simon Whelahan in the Cats 1999 Leinster hurling final win
A fresh-faced Henry Shefflin in 1999
Henry Shefflin in action for Kilkenny against Wexford in the Walsh Cup in 1999. Picture Credit: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE.
Kilkenny hurler Henry Shefflin with Pat Hickey,President of the Olympic Council of Ireland (left) and Liam O'Neill,President of the GAA at Croke Park for the Olympic Torch relay in 2012
Henry Shefflin reacts after scoring a point against Galway in the 2012 All-Ireland final
Kilkenny captain Henry Shefflin lifts the Liam MacCarthy Cup after victory over Limerick in the 2007 All-Ireland
Ballyhale Shamrock's players, from left, Henry Shefflin, Alan Cuddihy and Michael Fennelly celebrate after their win in the Kilkenny Senior Hurling Championship Final between Clara v Ballyhale Shamrocks last year

Conor Kane

Henry Shefflin's wife Deirdre admitted that she only found out a week ago that his retirement was imminent.

The wife of the most decorated player to ever pick up a hurley watched with pride yesterday as her husband ended an unrivalled inter-county career.

Afterwards Deirdre Shefflin told the Irish Independent how thoughts in the household turned to his inter-county future after her husband's club, Ballyhale Shamrocks, won the All-Ireland club final on St Patrick's Day.

"Last Wednesday morning we were sitting having breakfast and I got a little inkling from him," she said. "He said: 'Maybe I've had enough'. It's something that's never happened before."

The man who won 10 All-Ireland senior hurling medals and 11 All-Star awards then took a few days to reflect on his career and the enormity of retirement.

In the Set Theatre at Langton's Hotel in Kilkenny - the scene of many a post-training meal during the 16 years Shefflin played - he addressed dozens of journalists. He revealed one of the people he discussed his retirement with was county boss Brian Cody.

Deirdre said that as the days went on last week, "he was leaning towards" retirement. "Every morning he woke up he was heading that way. He spoke to Brian on Friday, Brian was very good. He was very keen to talk to him. But Brian isn't going to make the decision for him. "He went off and reflected after his chat and spoke to a few more people."

That chat with Cody happened on Friday. By Monday the decision was made and, again, one of the first people Henry rang was Cody.

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Deirdre said it would be a big change for the family. "I feel, obviously, a little bit sad. It's been a huge part of our lives. Hurling has been part of our days and part of our week. It's going to be a big change.

"Am I sad it's the end of it? Yes, I am, but I'm happy he's got what he did out of it.

Henry Shefflin celebrates last year's All-Ireland final win
Henry Shefflin celebrates last year's All-Ireland final win
Kilkenny's Henry Shefflin celebrates winning the All Ireland Senior Championship in 2015
Henry Shefflin gives a thumbs-up to Ballyhale’s record sixth All-Ireland title
Henry Shefflin, Ballyhale Shamrocks, kisses the cup after All-Ireland club victory
Kilkenny manager Brian Cody and Henry Shefflin after their All-Ireland success last year
Barry Kelly sends off Kilkenny's Henry Shefflin in their 2013 All-Ireland Senior Championship Quarter-Final defeat to Cork
Kilkenny's Henry Shefflin celebrates with the Liam MacCarthy Cup and winning his 9th All-Ireland medal in 2012
Henry Shefflin reacts after scoring a point against Galway in the 2012 All-Ireland final
Kilkenny hurler Henry Shefflin with Pat Hickey,President of the Olympic Council of Ireland (left) and Liam O'Neill,President of the GAA at Croke Park for the Olympic Torch relay in 2012
Henry lifts and hugs his daughter Sadhbh after Kilkenny's 2012 All-Ireland triumph
Kilkenny's Henry Shefflin celebrates with the Liam MacCarthy Cup in 2011
Kilkenny's Henry Shefflin holds his knee after pulling up injured, forcing him off in the early part of the All-Ireland final defeat to Tipperary in 2010
Kilkenny's Henry Shefflin receiving treatment after suffering a knee injury in the 2010 All-Ireland
Henry Shefflin, Kilkenny, celebrates after scoring his side's second goal in their All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final win over Waterford in 2009
Brian Cody embraces his talisman Henry Shefflin after the 2003 All-Ireland final.
Ballyhale Shamrock's players, from left, Henry Shefflin, Alan Cuddihy and Michael Fennelly celebrate after their win in the Kilkenny Senior Hurling Championship Final between Clara v Ballyhale Shamrocks last year
Kilkenny captain Henry Shefflin lifts the Liam MacCarthy Cup after victory over Limerick in the 2007 All-Ireland
Kilkenny's Henry Shefflin lifts the Liam MacCarthy cup with Darragh McGarry, son of James McGarry, right. Guinness All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Final, Kilkenny v Limerick in 2007
Kilkenny captain Henry Shefflin holds the Leinster Senior Cup as Wexford players make their way to their dressing room. Guinness Leinster Senior Hurling Championship Final in 2007
Kilkenny Hurler Henry Shefflin married Deirdre O'Sullivan at Callan, Co. Kilkenny in 2007. Photo Patrick Browne Jnr
Ballyhale Shamrocks players Tom Coogan, left, and Henry Shefflin lift the Tommy Moore Cup after the AIB All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling Championship Final in 2007. Picture credit: Brian Lawless / SPORTSFILE
Henry Shefflin, Kilkenny, commiserates with Cork players, l to r, Ronan Curran, John Gardiner, Kieran Murphy, Sarsfields, Wayne Sherlock, Sean Og O hAilpin and Donal Og Cusack. Guinness All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Final in 2006
David Fitzgerald, Clare, squares up to Henry Shefflin, Kilkenny, watched by team-mates Frank Lohan (2) and Sean McMahon, Clare. Allianz National Hurling League, Division 1 Final in 2005
Henry Shefflin, Kilkenny, scores a last minute point. Guinness All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship, Semi-Final, Kilkenny v Clare, Croke Park, Dublin in 2006. Picture credit; Damien Eagers / SPORTSFILE
Donal Og Cusack, Cork, in action against Henry Shefflin, Kilkenny during the 2004 All-Ireland final
Kilkenny's Henry Shefflin leaves the field with an eye injury during the Guinness All-Ireland Hurling Championship Quarter Final Replay against Clare in 2004
The Kilkenny doctor Tadhg Crowley attends to Henry Shefflin as referee Pat Horan and Clare's Gerry Quibb look on during their All-Ireland Hurling Championship Quarter Final Replay at Semple Stadium in 2004
Kilkenny's Henry Shefflin lifts the Liam MacCarthy cup after the All-Ireland victory over Clare in 2002
Kilkenny's Henry Shefflin shoots to score his side's goal despite the presence of Stephen Byrne, left and Kevin Martin, Offaly in the 2000 All Ireland Hurling Championship Final. Picture credit: Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE
Henry Shefflin, Kilkenny, in action against Simon Whelahan in the Cats 1999 Leinster hurling final win
Henry Shefflin in action for Kilkenny against Wexford in the Walsh Cup in 1999. Picture Credit: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE.
A fresh-faced Henry Shefflin in 1999

"Henry is one of those guys, he likes being busy and will be busy. He'll be around that little bit more, but he'll continue with the club."

Henry, whose day job is as a Bank of Ireland sales manager, said: "Deirdre obviously would love for me still to be playing, because she really enjoys the whole thing as well."

He sent team-mates a phone message to break the news. "That for me was very sad because I wouldn't be here today, but for those lads. I've so many good memories, on and off the field of play, and I'm going to very much miss them."

Henry and Deirdre Shefflin have four children, Sadhbh (7), Henry Jnr (5), Siún (4) and Freddie (11 months), but much of yesterday's fuss was lost on the younger family members.

Henry will do some juvenile coaching with the club, as well as continuing to play with Ballyhale

"It is a bit crazy, to be honest," Henry said of the attention. "I'm an amateur GAA player and I was playing with my club Ballyhale and I'll go back there whenever we go back training."

Read more: 'I once disrespected Henry Shefflin on the field. I learned an invaluable lesson'

Read more: 'That was the only emotional thing about it, saying goodbye to the lads'

Read more: Shefflin 'knew time was up' after game against Clare

Irish Independent

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