When Michael Fennelly announced his retirement from inter-county hurling last week there was a consensus that losing such a stalwart will be a huge blow for Kilkenny heading into the 2018 season.
After all, there is no denying that Fennelly is one of the finest players of the modern era. Hurler of The Year in 2011, eight All-Ireland medals amassed (one as captain in 2009) and twelve years of invaluable experience behind him, surely the midfield powerhouse has more to offer the Cats at just 32?
Surely he could give another push to squeeze one final year of hard slog in the black and amber in order to be a part of Brian Cody’s side’s attempt to rejoin the likes of Galway, Waterford and Tipperary in contention for Liam MacCarthy this year after a disappointing 2017?
Well, as he touched on in the statement he released upon his announcement, his body is simply not physically willing to do so.
In said statement, he noted:
“I have mentioned on a few occasions in the past how your mind can get your body to go to certain places but I feel my body has surpassed its limits at this time.”
In an interview with the Kilkenny People, he has reiterated that point, explaining that only for the horrendous run of injuries he has endured in the latter stages of his career, he would be continuing on with Kilkenny for the year ahead.
Fennelly has shared his reasons for calling it a day with Kilkenny, explaining that his body is no longer up to the physical task of inter-county hurling.
He had even joined up with the panel for pre-season gym work before coming to a conclusion over his future.
“I don’t want to finish my career on crutches, or to end up coming off on a stretcher again.
“I would be afraid that would happen,” admitted Fennelly.
It was in one of those pre-season team gym sessions which was the final straw for Fennelly. While he felt fit and excited for the forthcoming season, a twinge in his back which has been recently troubling him amongst a host of other niggles was a deciding factor.
“I knew then, naw, I am not going to win here. I knew then my problems were not going to go away. I might have a few good weeks of good training and feel brilliant, and feel like I might go on for a couple of years.
“But then I would get a pull in the back, a strain or maybe a spasm.”
The Ballyhale Shamrocks clubman continued, going on to express how the strain of his buildup of setbacks was too much to handle.
“It was never ending. It was mentally and physically draining.
“I have given as much as I can.
“I would be fighting a battle I couldn’t win.
“You can’t be half in and half out. You have to be fully committed. My body is not able for it anymore,” said Fennelly.
One thing for certain is that after the illustrious career Fennelly has put down, there is not a man, woman or child in Kilkenny or further afield that can begrudge the Cats legend a happy retirement.