Friday 15 December 2017

Huge boost for Cats fans as Shefflin hints he’ll return for one more season

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

Hurler of the Year Henry Shefflin has hinted that he will come back and bid for a 10th All-Ireland medal next year.

Shortly after accepting this year's top hurling award and a record 11th All Star, Shefflin indicated that playing another year is still a possibility.

"I'd love to be able to say I'd have a go at it again next year," said the Ballyhale legend, who added that he won't be making a decision until the new year.

Earlier, the 33-year-old had sounded a note of caution: "This time last year I did my shoulder and you just don't know what could happen."

Meanwhile, the unveiling of the GPA hurling All Stars generated plenty of debate -- there was none for Tommy Walsh, none for Tipperary, more for Galway than Kilkenny and two for Waterford, who didn't win any major honours.

The absence of Kilkenny's wing-back superstar Walsh was one of the big talking points at the Convention Centre, Dublin, where Shefflin continued his extraordinary record-breaking sequence.

Walsh was edged out at right wing-back by Clare's Brendan Bugler, ending the Tullaroan man's remarkable unbroken run of nine successive All Stars between 2003 and 2011.

There were eyebrows raised too at the fact that more Galway players made the top 15 than the team who beat them in the All-Ireland final and also won the league.

Galway did beat Kilkenny in the Leinster final and took them to a replay in September, but there was still surprise that they got six All Stars to the Cats' five. Despite winning the Munster title, Tipperary's All-Ireland semi-final loss proved costly as they were completely overlooked, with their strongest contender Padraic Maher losing out to Galway's David Collins at wing-back.

Waterford's John Mullane picked up his fifth All Star and his clubmate Kevin Moran was finally recognised with a midfield berth. Cork's Anthony Nash, who took over after Donal Og Cusack's injury in the league semi-final, held off the challenge of Galway's James Skehill and Limerick's Nicky Quaid to take the goalkeeper's jersey.

Donegal's Karl Lacey was named Footballer of the Year, while Mayo's Cillian O'Connor and Galway full-back Johnny Coen -- despite not winning All Stars -- took the young player of the year awards in football and hurling.

Elsewhere, the GPA has come up with a novel plan for Ulster hurling teams to be more competitive at senior championship level by suggesting they play under a representative banner.

The GPA AGM passed a motion recommending that the GAA and Ulster Council examine the possibility of establishing provincial minor and U-21 squads to compete in the All-Ireland series for three years.

They suggested that this could be the precursor to the establishment of an Ulster senior team representing the province in the Liam MacCarthy Cup.

The GPA also formally asked all county boards to "engage fully" in the process of agreeing to and signing their 'players charters' before next February and also called upon the Government to maintain their funding scheme for GAA players which they estimate has taken a 73pc cut so far.

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