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Cats legend Skehan says Shefflin is greatest of all time

Kilkenny’s nine-time All-Ireland medallist Noel Skehan believes Henry Shefflin doesn’t need to match his all-time SHC record this Sunday to prove he is the greatest hurler of all time.

Former goalkeeper Skehan, who won six of his Celtic Crosses between the posts and three as substitute to the late great Ollie Walsh, will be joined by Shefflin and Noel Hickey should they beat Galway in three days’ time.

The Bennettsbridge man, a former selector under Brian Cody, would gladly welcome the company but insists Shefflin has already done enough in the game to illustrate he has no peers.

"Oh, as it stands, you’re talking about the greatest hurler ever even if he didn’t win on Sunday. He’ll still be the greatest hurler.

"He’s a fantastic sportsman. What he has achieved up until now, even forgetting the result on Sunday, you’d have to put him well up on top of the ladder."

Skehan appreciates Shefflin’s achievement would be all the more remarkable considering he has not missed a single SHC game since making his debut in 1999.

"To do it all on the pitch is a great achievement," said Skehan, who has been at every one of those games. "To start every championship match since he came on the scene, it goes without saying how good that is and I hope to God that he achieves it.

"I was happy to be a sub for one simple reason. The man ahead of me was a great goalkeeper, the best goalkeeper in Ireland at the time.

The 66-year-old never put too much store in his haul of medals. "If Kilkenny win it’ll mean they’ll have the medals naturally.

"I never gave too much notice to the number of medals I have. Starting off, I was happy to get one. Everything else was a bonus after that."

He lauds Shefflin and Hickey’s ability to continue making themselves as relevant to the Kilkenny cause as ever before.

"The level of the people that are involved, the level of the team that has been involved over the years, Henry and Noel know they wouldn’t have so many medals if it weren’t for them.

"Medals are individual things but it’s how good the team is around you that help you get them. But to hang in there on what is a great team at the top level says a lot for them as well."

Although Skehan says he hopes Kilkenny will win to help Shefflin and Hickey join him at the top, he expects their experience should deliver the victory.

"I don’t think it’s going to be like the Leinster final, that’s for sure. It will be a very tight battle and I don’t think Kilkenny will give away the amount of space and scores they did in the first 25 minutes of that game.

"After the first 25 minutes of the Leinster final, we won the rest of the game so they have to react quickly and ensure it doesn’t happen again.

"Galway will put in a huge performance. I saw the game against Cork and it was totally different. They did what they had to do to win it.

"Kilkenny, with their experience of All-Irelands, might help them at the end but there’ll be little in it with 10 minutes to go."