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Henry Shefflin ‘brave’ to take on Galway job says Limerick boss John Kiely



Limerick boss John Kiely has applauded Henry Shefflin’s courage in taking up the Galway job.

Having enjoyed success with his club Ballyhale Shamrocks, guiding them to successive All-Ireland club titles in 2019 and ‘20, the Kilkenny legend takes his first foray into inter-county management after emerging as a surprise appointment in succession to Kiely’s fellow Limerick man Shane O’Neill in October.

Speaking to RTE Radio 1, Kiely recalled how his playing career intersected briefly with that of Shefflin’s as they played against each other in the 1998 All-Ireland intermediate final when Limerick scored a five-point victory. Shefflin made his senior debut for Kilkenny the following year and went on to win a record 10 All-Ireland medals.

“He was starting out on his career and I was coming to the end of mine,” said Kiely.

“I marked his brother, Tommy Shefflin, he was corner-forward and Henry was full-forward and we crossed paths and we’re going to cross paths again now in the very near future and I wish Henry well.

“I know the challenge of being an inter-county manager and trying to rear a family and keep your job going, it is a challenge, it’s all-encompassing and very challenging but I wish him the very best in what he’s taking on.

“It’s a brave appointment for him to take up, such a journey away from home, etcetera, but I’m sure he’s going to give Galway a massive bounce as well, a fella with his experience and with his reputation and what he’s done as a player and a manager.

“Two All-Ireland club titles already as a manager, it’s just an incredible achievement for him. So I wish him well.”

Limerick encountered Galway en route to All-Ireland success in both 2018 and ‘20 though Kiely said they won’t be getting hung up on the impact that Shefflin may have in his adopted county.

“No matter who was going to go in there, there was going to be a bounce. That’s the nature of the game. You see it in the soccer every year as well, new managers going in, there’s a bounce. It’s all about just capturing the momentum and trying to enhance the group when you do go in.

“For us, we’ve never really looked externally at what has happened in other groups. For us it’s always been an internal emphasis for us in terms of our areas that we want to improve on, our areas that we want to achieve in.”

Limerick will bid for a historic three-in-a-row next year, a feat last managed in 2008 by Kilkenny, who added a fourth the following year. Outside of that, it’s only been achieved once in the last 70 years, by Cork in 1976-78, so while the current Limerick crop have already marked themselves out as the best in the county’s history, winning three on the bounce would clearly mark them out as one of the greatest sides in the history of the game.

But, again, Kiely insisted that they won’t be distracted by any of that.

“That won’t come into our thinking at all. For us, as I said earlier, we’ll be going back and chasing our improvement.

“We need to look after ourselves and the fact that it’s three-in-a-row, two-in-a-row, it doesn’t matter. Would you believe it was after this year’s All-Ireland when we actually realised, ‘Do you know what, that’s actually two-in-a-row now’.

“We would absolutely take all of that type of emotive stuff out of our equation and it won’t affect us in the slightest. We’ll be just going back chasing our own targets and working very, very hard to achieve them. That’s what we’ll be going after.

“I know it might sound very boring but I suppose it’s like business – you have to keep your eye on what’s actually important and emotive things like that are absolutely of zero importance and zero benefit and you have to park them.

“Yes, it’ll be something that will be addressed but it’ll be put in a box very quickly and be put aside and we’ll go away and focus on what’s important.”

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