'Eoin has been looking down on...


'Eoin has been looking down on us' - Shefflin hails perfect end to difficult year

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Little did Henry Shefflin expect that his first managerial role would generate such success at quite such an early stage.

Fifteen-months after taking charge of Ballyhale Shamrocks, Shefflin, three-times an All-Ireland winner during his playing days, has brought the Kilkenny club a record-extending seventh national title.

"It feels strange," Shefflin admitted to Off the Ball's Oisin Langan in the immediate aftermath of this afternoon's win.

"Little did I think when I took on this job that I would end up here to be honest.

"It's just been an amazing journey, there's been some amazing days like today, [and] there's been some very sad days."

A little less than 12-months ago, the community of Ballyhale was left distraught as Eoin Doyle, a member of Shefflin's senior panel, died in a road-traffic accident.

"Look, that's real life," the Ballyhale manager explained with reference to two further premature deaths that had shocked the local community in previous years.

With Doyle's jersey hanging in the Ballyhale dressing-room, the sobering reality of that loss emboldened Shefflin's determination that his players enjoy themselves.

"Today is about sport, it's about enjoyment, it's about expressing yourselves," Shefflin stated, "whatever you do, just enjoy it."

Contemplating the considerable five-week gap that separated the All-Ireland semi-final from this showpiece game, Shefflin had reason to be cheerful.

"I think the five weeks actually helped us," Shefflin explained, "[although] I don't think it's great for the GAA calendar."

"We had three very serious injuries, lads didn't train for nearly three-and-a-half weeks, so it gave us an opportunity."

Unfortunately for the beaten finalists St. Thomas' of Galway, such luck was not forthcoming.

"They picked up a few knocks in the lead-up to the final," Shefflin acknowledged, "and we've just had that bit of luck."

"I think Eoin Doyle has been looking down on us. Everything has gone our way this year."

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All-Ireland Club Hurling Championship Ballyhale Shamrock Henry Shefflin Kilkenny GAA

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