Henry Shefflin busy preparing for new campaign
By Cian O'Connell
Reviews take place at the end of every inter-county campaign.
So how does Henry Shefflin reflect on his first year in charge of the Galway senior hurlers? "I think it was captured outside, we're looking for silverware," Shefflin responded immediately.
"Did we get any? No we didn't. We ended up okay in the Walsh Cup, we ended up okay in the league, we did okay in the Leinster Championship, flat performance in the final, flashes of good play in the quarter-final and semi-final. Was there a consistent 75-minute performance? Probably not. Average."
Shefflin, though, remains optimistic that Galway can develop in 2023. "We need to do better if we are going to get to the stage where you have silverware in front of you," he adds.
"Your next question will be, well how do you get there? By basically developing the panel a little, getting more out of the substitutes and new players coming in. That's what we are going to try to do, open up the panel a little bit, try to find a few new players, that's what we need.
"As a management team we need to get better and as players we need to get better. As a collective then if we can just improve it then we have a better chance of getting some silverware."
A meaningful connection has been forged between Shefflin and the Galway panel. "It took a while to build those relationships and to get to know the place," Shefflin says.
"There was a very warm welcome from the start. But to become more comfortable with the group. It's amazing when you get big performances on the day against Cork, it was knockout, that was it and we got that.
"That connection becomes stronger by going through those experiences. The team very much needed me be invested with them and to give them that. It's amazing the way you step back from it then and you realise and then the season builds back. There is nothing like knockout hurling, for the competitive instincts in you."
Recently Shefflin, Richie O'Neill, and the Galway management team have monitored emerging players in club action.
"We had a good look," Shefflin says. "The great benefit myself and Richie this year we had a chance to review the club games and see players in action in a competitive environment.
"You can go training, do trial games internal. Are they the same as the cut and thrust of championship hurling? Probably not. That was brilliant to see. As I said, those conversations will happen this week.
"A lot of people put their hands up and showcased they have the quality to play for Galway next year."
Throughout the inter-county campaign in 2022, Shefflin and O'Neill journeyed from Kilkenny balancing work and hurling.
Is it very different preparing to launch a new campaign compared to 12 months ago? "I know where Loughrea is, I know where Loughgeorge is, I know the training facilities and the people around me," he replies. "That level of trust. I know the players and the club teams.
"There is that level of better understanding. I was always really conscious you can get a bounce the first year, it is the second year that is the test and can things improve?
"We need to see that improvement and we will only see it later in the year. As a management team, we need to improve. As a collective and players, we need to see that improvement in the season ahead, but I think it is a great time. It is an exciting time. Lads get a break, do their pre-season look forward after Christmas to getting back into it.
"The one thing about us, loads of games so loads of opportunities for players."