THE GREAT WATERFORD hurler Tony Browne announced his inter-county retirement this evening, calling time on 23 proud years in the Déise colours.
Browne, who turns 41 in July, won four Munster titles and three All-Stars in a senior career that spanned three decades, and is widely regarded as one of the best players never to win an All-Ireland title.
“I would like to take this opportunity to officially announce my retirement from inter-county hurling,” he said in a statement issued through the Gaelic Players’ Association.
“To do so is always a tough decision for any athlete but I know I have been blessed in so many ways to have experienced what I have with the Waterford hurling teams over the past three decades.
“I have loved and embraced every moment wearing the Waterford jersey from my earliest days. However, I know the time is now right for me to bring the curtain down on my county career.
I am so proud in knowing I have given my all to Waterford hurling. It is now time for others to enjoy and cherish the same honour and pride that I felt over the past 23 years representing Waterford.
Browne captained Waterford to the All-Ireland U21 title in 1992 and took his first steps on the senior stage that same year.
He retires as the most capped Waterford hurler of all time and one of only a handful of players to make 50 or more Championship appearances.
Individually his towering presence on the field was acknowledged with an All-Star and the Hurler of the Year award in 1998, as well as two more All-Stars in 2006 and 2007.
He won Munster titles in 2002, 2004, 2007 and 2010.
But the closest he ever came to lifting Liam MacCarthy was in 2008 when Waterford were ruthlessly dismantled by Kilkenny in the All-Ireland final.
Browne said: “Throughout those years I had the honour of playing with and against some of the greatest players ever seen in the game. I would like to thank all of the past and present players for their wonderful support and friendship throughout my career.
“I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank all the coaches the back-room teams over the years and indeed the medical staff who helped me to prolong my career way beyond expectation.
“I was very fortunate to have played under so many fantastic managers, all of whom contributed greatly to my career.
I would like to pay a special tribute to my club Mount Sion and my club colleagues for their support and guidance in helping me fulfil my potential as a hurler and as a person. The backing of my club enabled me to compete at the very highest level and follow my dreams.
He finished by paying tribute to Waterford’s fans.
It goes without saying the Waterford supporters are amongst the greatest in the GAA. I personally want to thank you for everything all through the years. I will cherish those cheers and your support for all time.
“I so look forward to supporting Waterford GAA for many years ahead and wish the current players and management the very best for the future.
“Finally to my family I sincerely thank you for your understanding, loyalty and support I will be forever grateful for all you have done.