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Henry Shefflin Reveals His Anger Following Joe Canning's Comments Back In 2012

Henry Shefflin Reveals His Anger Following Joe Canning's Comments Back In 2012

In his autobiography which is being published today, Henry Shefflin instanced the second half of the drawn 2012 All-Ireland final against Galway as his favourite 35 minutes of hurling in his career.

Having already been blitzed by the same opposition in the Leinster final, and trailing by five points at half-time, Shefflin was instrumental in hauling Kilkenny back into the game.

In the final few minutes, they appeared to have done enough to win, but Joe Canning, having already missed a reasonably straightforward free, nailed an injury-time effort from under the Hogan Stand to salvage a replay.

Shefflin experienced conflicting emotions watching Canning poised over the free.

People might find this hard to believe, but I didn't think it fair that he might go down in history as the man whose miss had got us there.

Don't get me wrong. Given the choice at that moment, I wanted the ball waved wide. But when the Galway roar erupted, part of me was relieved for Joe. Relieved that history wouldn't identify him as some kind of fall guy.

In the days following the drawn game, Joe Canning made an off-the cuff comment to reporters about Shefflin running 30 or 40 yards to remonstrate with Barry Kelly over a free awarded to Galway.

Shefflin recalls the incident to which Canning was referring.

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I remembered that incident clearly, and having seen the replay I knew I had been wrong. I thought at the time that Damien Hayes had taken a dive, but the replay showed it had been a foul.

However, Shefflin was more annoyed at Canning broadcasting, in the same interview, JJ Delaney's reaction to Shefflin's decision to go for a point from the 68th minute free rather than go for goal.

With the scores tied, Shefflin stood over a 21 metre free and proceeded to blast the ball over the bar rather than go for goal.

Canning told reporters that 'JJ wasn't too impressed anyway behind me'.

In the aftermath of the publication of these comments, Delaney proceeded to get on the phone to Shefflin in a panic. Shefflin told him to relax. They wondered whether this was a deliberate attempt on Galway's part to sow discord.

Shefflin said that, on first hearing, the interview had 'knocked him for six'.

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I'm probably well known for giving out to referees but as one of the more experienced players on the team I would have felt it was natural that I should be the one fighting our cause. And I was particularly angry what Joe had said about JJ, apparently trying to create some tension between team-mates. My initial reaction was 'I'll shove these words down Galway throats the next day!'

However, Shefflin writes that he was later persuaded that the comments had been blown out of proportion and said that Canning apologised to him for the remarks after the replay. The pair were seated beside each other at the All-Stars (see the above picture).

The reaction from ex-Kilkenny players was predictably one of outrage, with the usual duo of Eddie Keher and Eddie O'Connor tearing strips off Canning, and Galway in general, in the press. O'Connor called Joe 'out of order' and declared that he 'had gone well down in my estimation', while Keher accused the Galway players of 'diving'.

But Shefflin said that, within the camp, the comments were only mentioned once in the lead-up to the replay, by Richie Hogan, in a team meeting.

Read more: Henry Shefflin Reveals Anger At Donal Og Cusack Jibe From Years Ago

 

Conor Neville
Article written by
Perennial finalist in stand-up comedy competitions and former Contract Lawyer/ Coal Salesman with Corless, Corless and Sweeney

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