Just as it goes in every walk of life, time waits for no-one. As the 2017 All-Ireland Hurling Championship came to a close, several big names took the brave call of announcing their retirement. Here we’ve put 15 of these hurlers together and it makes for an impressive starting lineup.
While they may have felt their best days were behind them, perhaps we could convince them to come together and give the championship one last rattle.
This lineup possesses an amazing 22 All-Ireland winner’s medals, though it must be said one player accounts for eight of these.
GK: Darren Gleeson (Tipperary)
An All-Star in 2014, Darren Gleeson took on the difficult role of attempting to fill the void left by legendary net-minder Brendan Cummins.
Gleeson’s puck outs were amongst the most accurate in the game and were clearly his strongest attribute. Announcing his retirement following the completion of 2017, the Portroe man left with six Munster titles, two All-Irelands and an All-Star.
DEF: John O’Keeffe (Tipperary)
Staying with the Premier county, another Tipperary hurler who announced his retirement this winter was defender John O’Keeffe.
O’Keeffe’s finest season on the inter-county scene was when he started each game on Tipperary’s march to the All-Ireland final. He also started Tipp’s championship opener in 2017. He leaves the inter-county scene with an All-Ireland medal to go with his three Munster medals.
DEF: Stephen McDonnell (Cork)
Though McDonnell has not officially retired, he has opted out of the Cork panel, which in our selector’s eyes makes him more than eligible for our side.
The Glen Rovers man is as quick a defender as you will find and is rated highly by inter-county forwards who have crossed paths with the 2017 Munster-winning captain. McDonnell possesses two Munster titles.
DEF: Shane Prendergast (Kilkenny)
The final member of our full-back line was a late-bloomer. Prendergast made his debut in the 2015 All-Ireland semi-final before retiring in the winter of 2017.
Though Prendergast had a short-lived inter-county career, he leaves the game with a collection of achievements that most could only dream of. The Clara native captained Kilkenny to All-Ireland glory in 2015 and he has another All-Ireland medal to go with his two Leinster medals.
DEF: Brendan Bugler (Clare)
Citing the unreasonable demands of an inter-county hurler as the main reason for his retirement, we promise to work training around Brendan Bugler’s busy schedule.
One of a number of big retirement announcements this winter was that of Bugler. Twice an All-Star, many would feel Bugler still has plenty to offer the Banner. The secondary school teacher was a leader in Clare’s 2013 All-Ireland triumph.
DEF: Kieran Joyce (Kilkenny)
One of the most decorated members of our side, the Rower-Inistioge man is just 30 years of age and would still fit into most inter-county sides’ starting XVs.
Joyce made his breakthrough in 2012 as Kilkenny claimed their sixth All-Ireland title in seven years. Joyce will be most fondly remembered by Kilkenny supporters for his Man of the Match performance in the 2014 All-Ireland final replay.
DEF: Kieran Bergin (Tipperary)
Yet another member of our half-back line cited the unreasonable demands as the main reason for his inter-county retirement, which should be enough reason for the GAA to take notice.
Bergin returned from the US and almost instantly managed to force his way into Eamon O’Shea’s plans. In his short spell on the scene, Bergin claimed an All-Ireland medal as well as two Munster medals.
MID: Gavin O’Mahony (Limerick)
The first member of our midfield partnership was one of the most gifted strikers of a ball to pull on the Limerick jersey.
Gavin O’Mahony’s inter-county career saw him participate in three Munster finals and the Kilmallock man was, of course, part of the famous 2013 Munster Championship-winning side. O’Mahony is also just 30 years of age.
MID: Patrick Donnellan (Clare)
Our second All-Ireland-winning captain, Pat Donnellan was Davy Fitzgerald’s leader of choice as the Banner famously climbed the steps of the Hogan Stand in 2013.
Donnellan fell victim to the dreaded curse of the torn ACL in January 2016, but made a full recovery in 2017 before retiring last winter. Donnellan’s name will forever be remembered in the history of Clare hurling.
FW: James Ryan (Limerick)
We go back to the Shannonsiders as we introduce our half-forward line.
If one performance stands out from the career of ‘Jimbob’ it will, of course, be his display in the 2013 Munster final, Ryan was phenomenal on that occasion and was crowned Man of the Match for his efforts.
FW: Michael Fennelly (Kilkenny)
Remember the aforementioned player who was the owner of eight All-Ireland medals? This is our guy. So long as we could get Fennelly on the field injury-free, we’ll be confident of victory.
Fennelly will go down as one of the greatest players of his generation. A true powerhouse, whether it be from centre-back, midfield or centre-forward – Fennelly was sure to dominate the game.
The Ballyhale Shamrocks man retires with an astonishing eight All-Irelands, nine Leinster titles, three All-Stars and was the 2011 Hurler of the Year.
FW: Cyril Donnellan (Galway)
A stalwart of Galway hurling, Cyril Donnellan could retire from the sport of hurling a satisfied man as he was finally part of an All-Ireland-winning side in 2017.
The hard-working half-forward was a member of the Galway panel from 2008 to 2017, hitting his finest form in 2012 as Galway claimed a Leinster title over rivals Kilkenny. Donnellan retires with an All-Ireland winner’s medal to accompany his two Leinster medals.
FW: David O’Callaghan (Dublin)
With so many big names returning to Dublin hurling this winter, it’s easy to forget the arguably the biggest name in Dublin hurling has departed the scene.
‘Dotsy’ was one of the most electrifying corner-forwards in the country each time he took to the field. A nightmare for corner-backs, the Dublin legend was part of the historic 2013 Leinster-winning side.
FW: Darach Honan (Clare)
The youngest member of this side, Honan is just 27 years of age. The Clonlara man was also critical of the current inter-county scene.
The former UCC student became a household name in 2009 as he lit up the All-Ireland Under-21 Hurling Championship on Clare’s route to glory. Honan also closed out the 2013 All-Ireland final with a green flag to his name.
FW: Colin Ryan (Clare)
The guaranteed free-taker of our side, Ryan was one of these players capable of making the ball talk. Ryan hadn’t featured in recent years, but the loss of a consistent free-taker was felt in the Banner.
An All-Ireland medalist in 2013, Ryan finished the championship as the top-scorer before being controversially overlooked for an All-Star. The secondary school teacher will retire a happy man with all he has achieved.