Henry Shefflin says that he was “boisterous” on the field, when speaking to referees.
The 10-time All-Ireland winner admits on the TG4 show, Laochra Gael, that he was vocal, but felt his reputation for it counted against him.
That wasn’t the opinion of former Cork manager, Donal O’Grady, who felt “when a ref had a 50-50 decision, Henry got it” or even his old Kilkenny team-mate, Jackie Tyrrell, who took issue with it in 2011, when their clubs, Ballyhale Shamrocks and James Stephens, clashed.
“I’d marked Henry loads of times,” opened Tyrrell, on the Nemeton-produced TG4 programme. “I’d seen him in matches and he most definitely tried to influence referees and definitely in Kilkenny club hurling, where he did have an influence and it did work.
“The first free we won, he went at the referee. I said no way is this happening today and I made a go at him and I just said, ‘No way, Henry. Not today’ and he was still mouthing at the referee and I got him and dragged him away, because I knew he could actually influence the referee and, if he kept at the referee later on in the game, if the decision was 50-50, his influence would definitely have swayed it to Ballyhale.”
Shefflin concedes he was chatty with match officials. “I was probably boisterous enough on the field, yeah. If I felt there was something there, I would have made my voice be known. Sometimes, it worked against me and frees were given against me and I was starting to annoy referees and stuff.
“I suppose I was just letting my emotions out, more so than anything else.”
Losing to Stephens six years previously had affected Shefflin greatly. “I took that to heart, more than any loss. I could have been driving along in my car, during that winter, and I’d think back about that match and I’d feel myself welling up with tears.”
The 11-time All-Star speaks openly about being a practising catholic. “I am religious and my family would be religious. My uncle, Father Paul, played a big part. He was kind of a father figure in the family; he passed away in 2006. There was that period when he was sick, that I think he was transcending his faith and his spirit down onto us.
“Hurling brought some massive highs, but it would bring pressures, as well, and expectations, and I think your faith, whenever I came to the church, whenever I came to pray, I felt that air of calmness, of peace and tranquility that you do get from prayer.
“When I was younger, I probably prayed that things would go well, but I now realise, at a mature stage of my life, where you shouldn’t do that. You should thank God for things and I do. I don’t thank him for hurling; I thank him for the enjoyment I get out of it.
“That’s what faith is, for me.”
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