AFTER an enforced injury lay-off of almost nine months, King Henry is back — and triumphant too.
Lining out in the Kilkenny colours for the first time since being forced out of last year’s All-Ireland final after less than quarter of an hour with cruciate ligament damage, Shefflin turned in a top class display as the Cats inflicted a comprehensive defeat on Waterford last evening in a game to mark the official opening of Páirc Eamonn De Paor in Tallow, commemorating the late Ned Power who was the goalkeeping hero of Waterford’s last All-Ireland senior title win in 1959.
GAA president Christy Cooney performed the honours and earlier he also unveiled a magnificent bronze statue of the goalkeeping icon which is sited on the outskirts of the town.
Wearing the number 14 jersey, Shefflin largely confined himself to the area fronting the Waterford, goal but showed pace aplenty as he kept the defenders on their toes throughout.
He ended with a tally of eight points, including three beauties from play, and afterwards expressed his delight at having played for the entire seventy minutes.
“I’ve been waiting for this day for a very long time, and I’m more than happy at the way things went for me,’’ he said. “Right now I’m not feeling any ill effects and hopefully I will stay injury free for all of the championship campaign.’’
Kilkenny were more than good value for their eight-point win, with perhaps the only blot on their copy book being their failure to break down the home citadel for even one goal.
The near total dominance of Shefflin’s Ballyhale clubmate T J Reid in the middle of the field ensured the Cats enjoyed a monopoly of the first-half territorial possession, and but for Seamus Prendergast’s clinically finished goal in the 25th minute Waterford would have trailed by even more than seven points, 0-15 to 1-5, at the interval.
They had a flying start to the second half however with Eoin Kelly firing home their second goal from close range, but a steady stream of unanswered Kilkenny points soon left no doubt as to who were running the show.
The introduction of several of their more established players did improve matters somewhat for Waterford and their third goal from Tomas Ryan in the fifth minute of the second half was an absolute cracker.
But Kilkenny finished as they began and further points from sub Conor Fogarty and Shefflin sealed their deserved and impressive win.
Scorers for Kilkenny: H. Shefflin (0-8, 0-4 frees, 0-2 “65s’’); T. J. Reid (0-5); R. Hogan (0-4); M. Rice (0-2); R. Power (0-2); J. Mulhall (0-2); P. Hogan, C. Fennelly, C. Fogarty (0-1) each.
Scorers for Waterford: E. Kelly (1-2, 0-2 frees); T. Ryan (1-1); S. Prendergast (1-1); R. Foley (0-3, 0-2 frees, 0-1 “65’’)’ J. Nagle, D. O’Sullivan (0-1) each.
KILKENNY: D. Herity; P. Murphy, N. Hickey, J. Tyrell; T. Walsh, B. Hogan, P. Hogan; T. J. Reid, C. Fennelly; M. Rice, R. Power, E. Brennan; M. Ruth. H. Shefflin. R. Hogan.
Subs: J. Mulhall for Fennelly (46 mins); R. Doyle for Power (46); M. Kavanagh for Tyrell (52); C. Fogarty for Ruth (55); P. J. Delaney for B. Hogan (60); K. Joyce for Rice (60).
WATERFORD: A. Power; D. Prendergast, W. Hutchinson, A. Kearney; P. Mahony, K. Moran, J. Nagle; S. Molumphy, R. Foley; G. Crotty, S. Fives, E. McGrath; T. Ryan, S. Prendergast, E. Kelly.
Sub: S. O’Keeffe for Power; N. Connors for D. Prendergast; M. Walsh for McGrath; S. Casey for Fives; T. Browne for Mahony (all half time); D. O’Sullivan for Foley (48).
Referee: C McAllister (Cork).
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