Déise star Kelly calls it a day

Eoin Kelly has played his last game of senior inter-county hurling for Waterford, announcing his retirement whilst insisting that there are 'no hard feelings' with manager Michael Ryan.

Déise boss Ryan dropped Kelly from the panel earlier this year due to concerns over the forward's fitness, but the Passage clubman is bowing out on good terms with the management.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Kelly said: "I want to thank Michael and his management team. There are no hard feelings. They were doing what they felt was best early on this year and I respected that at the time.

"I felt I could contribute something and was only too happy to come back and play for Waterford when I was asked.

"I got a goal against Clare in the Munster semi-final which proved to me that I could still perform at the highest level."

Kelly, barely 30, leaves the inter-county scene with four Munster medals and two All-Star awards and gave special mention to the efforts of the Waterford County Board who have supported the hurlers through thick and thin.

"I've given 13 years to Waterford and I've been lucky enough to win four Munster titles on the field of play. That's a pretty good return. I recently broke my thumb badly in a club game and that's also a factor (in my decision)," he added.

"The County Board have always been a great support to me - and to the entire team, come to that.

"People don't realise how tight things are financially for the County Board, but they're doing everything within their power to keep hurling and football going in Waterford, and you have to respect that."

He explained: "At one stage earlier in the year we were asked to sign hurleys before a training session - the Board were going to raffle them off to raise money to buy a set of jerseys for us.

"I know things are tight everywhere and County Boards all over the country are feeling the pinch but, in fairness to the lads here, they're willing to put their shoulders to the wheel to keep things ticking over."

Kelly has also called on the GAA to stamp out internet bullying of inter-county players, with some of football and hurling's top stars targeted regularly by anonymous contributors on social media websites.

"One thing that annoyed me a lot over the years was the amount of lies and rumours spread about lads on internet message boards and Facebook and all of that.

"Scurrilous stuff altogether, out and out lies being told by fellas hiding behind made-up names.

"I often felt the GAA itself could be a lot more proactive in dealing with that kind of thing. I know that it's hard to track people down on the internet but there are millions of euro generated by the inter-county every game in attendances and sponsorships, and so on.

"Surely the GAA could spare a few bob to protect lads from having their good names taken by 'heroes' who haven't the guts to put their own names to what they're writing?

"A lot of the Tipperary lads got slaughtered on message boards since the All-Ireland semi-final. That's not right."

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