Galway chairman Pat Kearney in a radio interview today has talked up the shock appointment of Henry Shefflin as the county’s new senior hurling manager.
earney believes Shefflin can get the best out of Galway’s young talent as the legendary Kilkenny player prepares for his first role in inter-county management.
Former Waterford, Clare and Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald been expetected to be announced as the new Tribesmen boss, but in an unexpected twist, Shefflin’s appointment was confirmed on Wednesday.
In a 16-year inter-county career, Shefflin won 10 All-Ireland titles, 13 Leinster SHC titles, six national league titles and 11 All Star awards. He was also being named Hurler of the Year on three occasions.
He picked up a further three All-Ireland titles with Ballyhale Shamrocks. It was was with his club that Shefflin demonstrated his potential as a manager, leading them to back-to-back All-Ireland titles before stepping down last year.
“It’s a great acquisition for Galway,” Kearney said on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.
“It’s an outstanding and positive appointment and we’re delighted. Henry is up for the challenge.
“He has an unrivalled career in hurling, and in management, he led Ballyhale to club All-Irelands in 2019 and 2020. He brings enthusiasm, vision and values.
“We have young players coming in off the five minor All-Irelands. Added to the core of players that is there they should be focused, dedicated and motivated by Henry.
“His very presence in the dressing room has to inspire younger hurlers and that’s the aim.”
Joe Canning, since retired, and Aidan Harte react to Galway’s loss to Waterford in the summer
For the last five years, the Tribesmen have regularly started new seasons as the pundits’ favourites to lift the Liam MacCarthy. Only once – back in 2017 – did it actually come to pass as they beat Waterford.
While this is ultimately Shefflin’s first job in inter-county management, Kearney added that the former Kilkenny great has enough experience to have Galway challenging Limerick’s supremacy.
“Everybody has to start somewhere and Henry is starting with a base,” he said.
“He has his values, he has his experience, presence, his motivation, and he’s up for the challenge.”
The other big name linked with the position had been Fitzgerald. Kearney admits that they did talk with the man who departed the Wexford job at the end of the summer, but that there were just seven members of the management selection committee who knew that Shefflin was the front-runner for the appointment.
“It’s the media’s job to speculate, but there was one pillar missing and that was the facts,” he continued.
“It was a tight ship, we had to keep it that way. There was a lot of commentary on the issue. They (appointment committee) were focused on the job and they got their man.”
Moving to matters big ball, Kearney stopped short of saying which way the Galway delegates would be voting at Special Congress this weekend when it comes to proposal ‘B’.
But he did point out that he thinks the current favourite for potential change to the structure of the football championship – proposal ‘B’ – is underdeveloped.
“Change is imminent, but change doesn’t suit everybody, and it’s no secret that we’re one of the counties that this change doesn’t suit.
“There are anomalies in it, there are challenges in it; things like 10 games in 13 weeks, bigger panels, dual counties and club fixtures.
“We’ll abide by the will of congress and row in and adapt to change. We would support John Horan’s proposal that it would be tweaked and then brought in for 2023 and 2024. Once something is in it’s very hard to change it.
“That’s our view in Galway. We might be in the minority, but you never know how things might go the next day.”