Captaincy link to Mullane exit denied

Waterford manager Michael Ryan has flatly denied suggestions the captaincy of the county team was an issue in John Mullane’s decision to retire from inter-county hurling.

Ryan revealed the pair met for an hour in a Waterford city hotel on Wednesday evening, before Mullane informed him of his decision by phone yesterday.

Ryan paid tribute to the five-time All Star hurler and said the game of hurling will be poorer for his absence.

“We’re good friends and it was a good, honest chat. John outlined where he was at and I respect that. He’s a married man with a family and is keen to do other things, and after 12 years with Waterford, he owes the county nothing.

“I know people will probably mention the Waterford captaincy. I can say that had nothing to do with his decision to retire.”

Ryan, who managed Mullane at club level with De La Salle, added: “He was an outstanding player, a great man in the dressing room and a great character to have around a team.

“Not too many players pick up five All Star awards having played only one All-Ireland final. John had a scoring average of 3.5 points from play in recent years — an incredible achievement.”

Ryan said he is to meet soon with another Waterford veteran, Tony Browne: “We’ll meet Tony this weekend and have a chat to see what his plans are.”

Mullane, 32, made his Waterford senior hurling debut in 2001 and won Munster championship medals in 2002, 2004, 2007 and 2010, as well as a NHL medal in 2007.

He played in Waterford’s All-Ireland final defeat in 2008 and has also won five All Star awards.

With his club De La Salle, he won three Waterford county titles and two Munster club titles.

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