Henry Shefflin has expressed delight at his return to competitive hurling but insists he would be “foolish to start thinking that I’m grand and ready to go back playing with Kilkenny”.
Shefflin played 20 minutes of Ballyhale Shamrocks’ victory over Dunamaggin in the Kilkenny SHL on Saturday as he continues to recover from the shoulder injury suffered in the county final replay defeat last October.
But he has warned that he is not yet ready for the level of intensity and physicality associated with inter-county senior hurling.
He said: “I got 20 minutes under my belt and it was just brilliant to be putting on the helmet and getting onto the field for a game. I was happy enough with how I did. I got no belts on the shoulder and it was great to wake up on Sunday and know that I’m going in the right direction.
“I’ll be back training with the club now this week and we’ve another league game against St Martin’s (Muckalee) next week. Hopefully I can get more game time then and continue on the road to recovery.
“But it’d be very foolish though to start thinking that I’m ready to go back playing with Kilkenny. I know myself there’s still a bit to go yet. It was only a club game and we were winning well when I came on. That was the perfect situation to make my comeback but at the same time, it was a good bit off the intensity I need to get used to again. Inter-county is another step up.
“I’ll know myself when I’m ready to come back but we’ll have to wait and see if I’ll be okay for the Leinster semi-final (on June 23).”
Kilkenny suffered another injury blow when Shefflin’s clubmate Michael Fennelly fractured his ankle in the Allianz League final win over Cork and now faces a 10-week spell on the sidelines.
“It’s very disappointing for him and he’s going to be a massive absence for us,” says Shefflin. “He’s the current Hurler of the Year so that says it all about how important a player he is. He’s in a cast at the moment and can’t do much in terms of recovering. It’s very unfortunate but hopefully we’ll have him back during the season.”
Kilkenny’s defeat of Cork by 14 points in that league final reaffirms their position as pacesetters entering the championship yet Shefflin believes the most heartening aspect of that win was the performances from the likes of Matthew Ruth, Colin Fennelly and Paddy Hogan.
“It was great to see those lads hurling so well as we need them to step up. We’ve a lot of injuries and we’ve lost other fellas through retirement. It was a good sign to see the 15 players that went out doing so well. I think it was our best performance of the league. It bodes very well for championship.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved