Shefflin: I’ll retire on my terms

Henry Shefflin has hit out at those trying to ‘pressure’ him into retirement, and insisted that the decision will be his alone.

The hurling world is eagerly awaiting confirmation of Shefflin’s plans for 2015 after capturing a record 10th All-Ireland winners medal in September.

More recently, five of his long-time Kilkenny colleagues have retired in a short period, bringing the spotlight further onto the 35-year old for a decision.

But the 11-time All Star, who turns 36 next month, says he won’t be giving anything away until Ballyhale Shamrocks’ AIB club campaign is over.

That could be as late as March if the newly-crowned Leinster champions overcome the Galway representatives in the All-Ireland semi-finals in February. In the meantime, speculation will inevitably intensify that he is to become the sixth and most high profile MacCarthy Cup winner to retire.

“I think there’s a lot of pressure coming on for me that, you know, ‘you have to retire’,” said a clearly frustrated Shefflin.

“I’ll make my own decision when the time is right. I will reflect. That (viewpoint) doesn’t come into it whatsoever.

“I’m my own person. I’ll make the decision when the time comes.

“I’ll talk to a few key people that I trust and that I want to speak to. Obviously, I’m not going to make a decision until I’m finished with my club.

“I don’t think it’s fair to the lads in the dressing room if there’s all this hullabaloo going on. For me and for the lads, I think the best thing I can do is just keep concentrating (on Ballyhale).”

Likewise, Shefflin said he won’t be swayed towards staying on merely because of the volume of experience Kilkenny have lost in recent weeks.

Two nine-time All-Ireland medallists have called it quits in JJ Delaney and Tommy Walsh while Brian Hogan, David Herity and Aidan Fogarty have departed too.

Asked if that is a factor in his decision, Shefflin shook his head.

“No, no, not whatsoever. I feel no pressure whatsoever. And I don’t feel pressure with some people saying he has to go now because other lads are gone.

“I don’t feel pressure either that, ‘he has to stay because the other lads are gone’. Absolutely not. The lads, JJ, Tommy, Brian, ‘Taggy’, Davy, they made the decision that was best for them.

“I spoke to each of them and each of them is very comfortable with that decision. I would hope, when I make my decision as well, that I’ll be totally comfortable with that.”

Of the five who retired, Delaney was the only starter in the All-Ireland final replay win over Tipperary. He picked up an All Star award too, so Shefflin expected him to stay on.

“I was surprised, yeah,” said Shefflin. “In another way, when I reflected, I wasn’t surprised, because that’s JJ.

“He’s an unbelievable defender and an unbelievable person so JJ does things very much his own way and I think he’s done it again now.

“Of course he caught us by surprise because he’d been an All Star this year. And why wouldn’t he think about going back to try and win his 10th medal?

“But I think it just was a testament to the man that that didn’t come into it one bit. He was just making the decision that suited him and his life best and that’s JJ.”

Shefflin admitted that Delaney’s strong final performance was a perfect platform to bow out upon.

“Oh yeah, it is, and then to win an All Star,” he said. “I don’t know if someone said it on a tweet or where it was that, ‘how many players have won an All Star and retired?’

“I don’t know is there that many. I think for him to go out at the top like that is absolutely brilliant.”

Shefflin shot four points for Ballyhale in Sunday’s extra-time provincial club final win over Kilcormac-Killoughey. He got better as the game wore on and was their driving force in extra-time. He will hope to carry that form into February and a potential All-Ireland semi-final clash with old rivals and holders Portumna, whom Ballyhale denied a three-in-a-row of titles in 2010.

“We’ve had some great battles, I’d say we’ve probably beaten them twice,” said Shefflin.

“I think to be fair to Gort, it’s going to be a tough game (the Galway county final). But it’s great for ourselves. It’s an absolutely brilliant thing to be looking forward to over Christmas.

“You can say that we’ve serious hurling straight away next year. You know, the opportunities for me are obviously diminishing with each passing month so it’s great to look forward to 2015 again.”

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