Michael Fennelly easily accepted Henry Shefflin’s decision to retire from inter-county hurling as a return to the fold for a 17th season would have been "high risk".
Fennelly is delighted his Ballyhale club-mate’s full focus will be on Shamrocks for the remainder of his playing career. But, while he was disappointed to have lost him from the Kilkenny set-up, he understands the decision to step away in light of the 36-year-old’s injury history and the possibility of not starting games this summer.
“It’s a pity. Without a doubt, he could still do it and it would have been great to have him in the dressing room and he’s a great man to come on from the line.
“But it was high risk for him to come back. I think he felt his time had come. It’s a painstaking one for him: His heart was saying one thing and his head was saying another. He made his decision and I’m delighted for him. He’s a season now to maybe step back and take it easy for once.
“He has loved the challenge and taking on things maybe he shouldn’t taken on in one sense, coming back from all those injuries, but I’m delighted to have him with us in the club and that’ll be his key focus for the year.
“He’ll enjoy the year, no doubt. It [the club] is more relaxing and chilled. Even the last two or three months with the club, it’s been nice for the likes of him and TJ (Reid) because it’s not that high-paced and they don’t have to travel too far to training. You can relax a bit more so that’s been a nice mental break for us.”
Fennelly has had his own injury difficulties ranging from issues with his knees, ankles and back. Earlier this month, his younger brother Colin expressed concern about the 30-year-old’s hurling future.
The 2011 hurler of the year admits it’s been a difficult time.
“It’s trying to maintain the body and keep it right. It’s been a nightmare but so far it’s going okay. I got two bad belts (v Clare on Sunday). I’ve been unlucky at times and I’ve small injuries that I need to keep an eye on. It’s about being smart.
“There’s no point in me absolutely killing myself and next thing getting injured and being out for five or six weeks.”
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