Henry Shefflin admits a fear of losing to Tipperary on their home patch was a major incentive in Saturday’s qualifier victory.
The 2012 hurler of the year, who came on as a late substitute in his first appearance of the year, recognised that concern about losing the bragging rights to their biggest rivals had weighed on Kilkenny minds.
“Of course, it did. There’s no point in saying otherwise. It would have given Tipperary great motivation coming down here to try and beat us. It works both ways.
“I think the lads knew they hadn’t performed very well last week and really stood up to the challenge.
“It was electric. The sunshine and everything made it special. I know it’s not nice going the qualifier route but a night like that is something we’ll always remember. It’s a special occasion and there probably should be more games in grounds like that. That was the idea of the qualifiers — to have games like this.”
Last weekend, Shefflin wasn’t in a position to play any part in the do-or-die battle but things improved as the week progressed.
“I did a small bit on Monday night for the first time. I had a decision to make. The surgeon said he wasn’t going to stop me but he’d rather if it was another couple of weeks.
“I did a bit here (in Nowlan Park) on Monday night, I came through that alright but after that, I didn’t know. I told Brian (Cody) I was willing to tog out and he was happy with that.”
Shefflin has to ensure he doesn’t put too much weight on his foot or risk further damage to his metatarsal.
“I wouldn’t be able to play a 70-minute match as I’ve only done 20 minutes of training.
“I’ve been doing straight line running. I would have rather another couple of weeks but I’ve been gradually building it back up and I’m delighted to be part of it.”
Shefflin knew there would be doubts raised about his and other seasoned players’ inter-county futures had Kilkenny fallen to Tipp but now they’re going into heading into another qualifier with Waterford.
“If they’d lost on Saturday night there would be question marks over the older players but I think they answered those questions.
“Some of the boys were magnificent. It’s a massive win for ourselves but it’s not worth anything unless we can go on and do something in this Championship. That will be the test next weekend.
“Next weekend is going to be a very dangerous match because this game took a lot out of the lads physically as well as emotionally.”
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