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'I still hardly believe this is happening': Limerick star Shane Dowling forced to retire aged 27

Dowling has had three surgeries on knee injury suffered in 2017.

Champions: Dowling celebrates with Limerick boss John Kiely after winning the All-Ireland in 2018.
Champions: Dowling celebrates with Limerick boss John Kiely after winning the All-Ireland in 2018.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

LIMERICK ALL-IRELAND winner Shane Dowling has been forced to retire from inter-county hurling at the age of 27 due to injury.

The Na Piarsaigh clubman suffered a serious knee injury in 2017 and has undergone three surgeries in as many years in a bid to save his career.

Faced with the prospect that he may need further surgery, Dowling announced his “heart-breaking” decision to hang up his hurl on Thursday morning.

“It is with deep regret and heartbreak that I have to announce my retirement from inter-county hurling today,” he wrote.

“This is a decision that I have struggled to accept, and may still struggle to accept over the coming years, given its premature nature.

To be speaking about retirement from the game I adore, at the age of 27, is not what I ever intended or imagined, and I still hardly believe this is happening, but unfortunately I have been left with no other option.

“After three surgeries on my knee in as many years, and with the possibility of another, my knee can no longer support the demands of inter-county hurling.”

After an eye-catching underage career, which included an 0-7 haul in Limerick’s Munster U21 final victory over Cork in 2011, Dowling made his senior inter-county debut under John Allen in 2012.

He helped Limerick bridge their long wait for senior provincial honours as part of the team which won the Munster championship in 2013, and later, the holy grail of an All-Ireland title under John Kiely in 2018.


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Dowling also won four Munster club titles with Na Piarsaigh, as well an All-Ireland club title in 2016 when he scored 0-7 in their Croke Park victory over Ruairí Óg Cushendall.

shane-dowling-watches-his-team-warm-up Crutches: An injured Dowling watches his Na Piarsaigh team-mates warm up in 2019. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“As I close this chapter of my life, which is heart-breaking for me, I am going to try to look at the positives, and fortunately for me, there are a lot of them,” he added.

“I have fulfilled my dreams, which was above and beyond what I ever thought was possible. I have no doubt that my obsession with the game of hurling will continue in different capacities in the months and years to come.

“If someone told me that July of 2019 would be the last time I would wear the green and white of Limerick, I would have said they were mad. But there you go, that’s life, that’s sport, so nail it, every chance you get.”

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Niall Kelly

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