Tributes pour in as Henry Shefflin retires to a standing ovation

By Grainne McGuinness

Henry Shefflin announced his retirement from inter-county hurling today at a press conference at Langtons Hotel in Kilkenny.

The Kilkenny icon received a standing ovation from the gathered media after his statement confirming his decision to leave the Kilkenny panel at age 36.

He will continue to play club hurling with Ballyhale Shamrocks, with whom he won a club All-Ireland last week.

“It is with a deep sense of gratitude and personal contentment that I am announcing today that I am bringing to an end my inter-county playing career with the Kilkenny Senior Hurling Team,” Shefflin said in his statement

“When I reflect back over the past 16 years playing the game that I love, at the highest level with Kilkenny, it is impossible to quantify the endless hours of happiness, satisfaction and fulfilment I have enjoyed.”

He also paid tribute to the people who supported him throughout his career, particularly his family.

“To my wife Deirdre, my parents, brothers and sisters I owe a huge debt of gratitude,” he said. “Only they really know the many sacrifices they have made on my behalf.

“Brian Cody has been part of my senior inter-county career from the beginning and I benefitted greatly from his guidance and support. I thank him and his management teams for the huge role they have played in the success I have enjoyed.”

He added: “The support I have received from Kilkenny supporters and from the GAA family all over Ireland in good times and in challenging times has been a humbling experience and made me realise how lucky and privileged I am.

“Hurling is and always will be part of who I am. I now look forward to continue to play with my club Ballyhale Shamrocks and supporting Kilkenny Hurling teams for many years to come.”

Chairman Ned Quinn, who sat beside Shefflin, praised the hurler, claiming his greatest performance was in the drawn All-Ireland final against Galway in 2012 when he brought Kilkenny from "the abyss of defeat".

The GPA paid their own tribute to Shefflin in a statement: "His enduring dedication, including overcoming two career-threatening injuries, has inspired a generation on and off the playing field. His untouchable legacy is unlikely ever to be eclipsed.

"A true role model for all aspiring athletes, Henry’s exceptional competitive zeal has always been underpinned by great sportsmanship and integrity. It is most fitting that, at 36 years of age, he was afforded the privilege of closing this chapter in his life as an All-Ireland champion with Ballyhale."

Shefflin said he will miss training the most and said his two hardest markers were JJ Delaney and Tommy Walsh.

Praise has been heaped on the player, who retires with 10 All-Ireland medals and 11 All-Stars after an incredible inter-county career that began in 1999.

Henry Shefflin honours

10 All-Ireland SHC (2000, 2002-03, 2006-2009,11, 12, 14), 12

Leinster SHC (1999-2003, 2005-11, 14),

6 NHL (2002-03, 2005-06,’09, 14) 2 Walsh Cup (2005-06), 1 Oireachtas (1999)

3 Hurler of the Year (2002, 2006, 2012), 1 RTÉ Sports Person of the Year (‘06)

11 All-Star (2000, 2002-09,11,12), 3 Railway Cup (2002-03, 2009)

1 Leinster IHC (1998),

1 All-Ireland U21HC (1999) 2 Leinster U21HC (1998-99), 2 Leinster MHC (1996-97)

3 All-Ireland Club SHC (2007, 2010, 2015) 4 Leinster Club SHC (2006, 2008, 2009, 2014),

6 Kilkenny SHC (2006-09, 2012, 2014) 1 Kilkenny IHC (1997), 1 Kilkenny MHC A (1997)

2 Fitzgibbon Cup (WIT: 1999-2000), 1 All-Ireland Colleges SHC (St Kieran’s College: 1996

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