Sunday 25 February 2018

Shefflin joy at smooth return

Henry Shefflin Photo: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile
Henry Shefflin Photo: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile
Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

Henry Shefflin looks on course to start in the Leinster SHC semi-final on June 18 after he top-scored when making his long-awaited inter-county comeback last weekend.

The Ballyhale Shamrocks star lined out in a challenge match against Waterford in Tallow and racked up 0-8, including three points from play, in a 0-26 to 3-9 victory for the Cats.

Shefflin, who is coming back from a second cruciate knee injury, did not deviate far from the full-forward position. It was his first game in a Kilkenny jersey since last year's All-Ireland final.

The nine-time All Star did not last even the first quarter of that game when his decision to try and overcome a cruciate injury without surgery backfired and his knee went again, forcing him out of Kilkenny's failed bid for the five-in-a-row.

Only a week ago Shefflin had said he was not going to rush his competitive return, particularly after seeing a young Ballyhale clubmate breaking down again after coming back from the same injury.

But he could not hide his delight at his successful comeback at the weekend. "I've been waiting for this day for a very long time and I'm more than happy at the way things went for me," Shefflin said afterwards.

"Right now I'm not feeling any ill-effects and hopefully I will stay injury free for all of the championship campaign."

He is expected to line out for his club against the Fenians in round three of the Kilkenny SHL on Thursday evening.

His Ballyhale clubmate TJ Reid had a particularly good game in midfield, scoring 0-5 from play, while Tommy Walsh, who missed the league final with his shoulder problem, was another noteworthy starter for the Cats.

Richie Power, who had hip surgery last winter, also started his first game for the county this year at centre-forward and Matt Ruth, selected at centre-forward in the NHL final against Dublin, was sited in his more familiar corner-forward spot.

Eoin Kelly top-scored for Waterford with 1-2, with Seamus Prendergast and Thomas Ryan scoring the Decies' other goals. But Davy Fitzgerald fielded a very experimental side.

They were without John Mullane and only introduced key defenders like Noel Connors, Michael 'Brick' Walsh and Tony Browne in the second half.

Irish Independent

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