Henry Shefflin boost for Ulster sides
He may have taken his final curtain-call on hurling's biggest stage but the legendary Henry Shefflin has flashed a parting message that will have particular resonance in Ulster.
Right now the sport could not be said to be on the crest of a wave here but Shefflin, despite his innumerable awards, provides a ration of encouragement for those counties that often find themselves swimming against the tide.
"Tactics have come more into the game and the media attention it receives is much higher. I'm very fortunate that I'm from Kilkenny and we've had so much success but I really tip my hat to the other players from the weaker counties who continue to put the effort in," said Shefflin.
It's a sentiment that has been warmly welcomed in the province where efforts continue to bring county teams to a new level.
Antrim skipper Neil McManus, who has also represented Ulster, played against Shefflin and enthusiastically acknowledges that he is the most successful hurler ever.
"While it is always hard to quantify who is the best player ever, there is no doubt that Henry is the most successful," said McManus.
"We have been privileged to watch him for so long. He has been an inspirational figure and it is encouraging to note he is fully aware of the work that is being done in the weaker counties. Many people are working hard to keep the hurling flag flying in such counties."
McManus, is certainly doing his bit to nurture the game at grassroots level by helping the St Killian's College Foresters Cup team in north Antrim, believes we may not see Shefflin's like again.
"He has had an extraordinary county career by any standards and his scoring exploits speak for themselves" added McManus.