Colm Bonnar had lined up five challenge games in preparation for Saturday’s fixture, the manager’s wish was that Shefflin would be kept in reserve until the meeting with Gort. The 36-year old informed Bonnar he hadn’t stayed at home to sit on the bench. Shefflin played all five. On Saturday, he hit five points in a man of the match display for Ballyhale Shamrocks.
“I have never seen him as hungry for the game,” said Bonnar. “Since we came back in the New Year, he just seems to have another pep in his step.
“He played all five challenge games with us while the lads were away on holidays with Kilkenny. We told him we’d play him in one or two, but he wanted to play them all.
“Henry is looking forward to the year ahead. He is leading from the front. Yes, he has great players around him, but he is winning his own ball, he is not looking to get a handy ball off anyone else.
“His attitude is amazing. We started the county championship with Henry at corner-forward. He had no problem with that. Then we said go out to wing-forward and he said okay. Then we moved him centre-forward and then full-forward. Wherever he is asked to go he does his utmost.He is a marked man every time he goes out, and he showed a clean pair of heels to several rivals today.”
The Ballyhale Shamrocks manager had readied his troops for a physical encounter, though confident hurling would eventually win out.
“We saw Gort in action in the county final. It was a very heavy day, but the work-rate and intensity they showed was excellent. There was one occasion when three or four Gort men hunted Ollie Canning down the sideline so we knew what we were facing. We set out our stall to match them physically and then try and get the hurling going after that.”
Gort manager Gerry Spellman said his charges lacked a ruthless edge in attack. “We were four down at half-time, but we felt we were well in it. We had left a few scores behind us and we felt that if we could get a few we would take it to them. We got those scores at the start of the second-half. Again though, we didn’t really drive it home. I am very disappointed.”