BY KIERAN McCARTHY
THE greatest hurler of the modern era expects Cork to be right in the mix for All-Ireland hurling honours this season.
The inter-county future of ten-time All-Ireland hurling winner Henry Shefflin might be shrouded in mystery but the 37 year old is in no doubt that Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s Rebels will bounce back from last year’s All-Ireland semi-final hammering by Tipperary.
‘Cork will definitely be at the business end of it again this year. If you look back at it last year, it was only one game that they lost. Okay, it was an All-Ireland semi-final but we all know that those things happen,’ Shefflin told The Southern Star while in Clonakilty last Thursday.
‘They have had two very good seasons back to back, they have been in an All-Ireland final that they came very close to winning and they have been in an All-Ireland semi-final as well. They’ll know they didn’t perform against Tipperary and that will spur them on this year.
‘Cork will want to show people that they are better than how they performed against Tipperary. There’s pride involved. When you have a team with a point to prove it can make them even stronger.
‘There’s a lot of young talent coming up so they look very strong and they will be in the mix.’
After a few years on the outside looking in Cork’s senior hurlers, under JBM, are again serious contenders for the Liam McCarthy, and having the traditional counties in strong health is good for the game, according to Shefflin.
‘For people on the outside they probably don’t want to see the traditional counties – like Kilkenny, Cork and Tipperary – be as competitive as we are but it raises the standards of everyone that is competing. All the hurling counties recognise that,’ he said.
‘It’s good for the game that everyone is getting very strong. Looking at it right now, it’s very hard to pick a winner in the hurling championship and that’s good for the game and the general public looking on as well.’
Shefflin, who works with the Bank of Ireland as Head of Recruitment, was a popular visitor to Sacred Heart Secondary School, Clonakilty on Thursday morning where he presented the school’s senior camogie team with a set of jerseys for Saturday’s Munster final, which they won.
These jerseys were sponsored by Bank of Ireland as part of their ongoing relationship with the school.
After Shefflin spoke to a captive audience, speeches followed from Brendan Walsh (vice principal), Anne Marie Brosnan (principal), Brian Daly (coach) and Geraldine Galvin (Manager Bank of Ireland).