The debate about just who is the greatest hurler of them all will rage on, but Brian Cody firmly believes Kilkenny’s king Henry reigns supreme.
“Have I seen a better hurler than Henry Shefflin?,” he said, repeating the question he was asked on Sunday. “No, I haven’t. Then again, neither have most people.”
The Kilkenny senior hurling manager was loud in his prase for the Ballyhale Shamrocks man, who announced his retirement from the inter-county scene last week.
“He’s done everything, absolutely everything for Kilkenny,” said Cody. “Henry repeated the comment I made that he had gotten everything out of himself.
“It’s not everybody who can say, in any walk of life, that you did more to get everything out of yourself. He genuinely couldn’t have done anything to get another ounce out of himself - you talk about emptying the tank every so often on the pitch, but he did it for every game in his career - that’s a hell of a tribute to pay anybody. His greatest legacy is that he has set the example for every Kilkenny player about what it takes to succeed.
Adorn The Game
“He worked as hard as any player who has ever walked out on Croke Park and that allowed him to adorn the game - that’s something that’s a great lesson for everybody.”
News of Shefflin’s retirement made headlines across the country, Many people, Cody included, were surprised at the initial announcement.
“When I spoke to him the first time (he made his mind up at the last minute) I thought he was going to stay on,” the manager admitted.
“He wasn’t definitive about it (staying or going) but I wouldn’t have been surprised if he’d stayed on, but he made the decision.”
While many marvelled at Shefflin’s individual feats, his only inter-county manager preferred to look at Henry’s contribution to the collective.
“He was the quintessential team player,” said Cody. “He was part of a package, a group who played so well to achieve what they have achieved. He was a vital part of that, no doubt, but his greatest strength was he contributed to the whole group.”
The absence of their record All-Ireland medal winner will be felt in the dressing-room, but the manager is convinced the team will march on.
“The dressing-room has to go ahead (without him) and it will go ahead.
“There’s nobody mourning - we will look back and say what a player, what a career,” the manager added. “It was good. It was great. It was fantastic!”
10 All-Ireland SHC medals
12 Leinster SHC * 6 National League
2 Walsh Cup * 1 Oireachtas
3 Hurler of the Year awards
1 RTÉ Sportsperson of the Year
11 All-Stars * 3 Railway Cup
1 Leinster IHC (1998),
1 All-Ireland U21HC
2 Leinster U21HC 8 2 Leinster MHC
3 All-Ireland Club SHC
4 Leinster Club SHC * 6 Kilkenny SHC
1 Kilkenny IHC
1 Kilkenny MHC A * 2 Fitzgibbon Cup
1 All-Ireland Colleges SHC