Paddy Stapleton has announced his retirement from inter-county hurling with Tipperary this afternoon, writes Peter McNamara.
The Borris-Ileigh man won two All-Ireland senior hurling championship medals, four Munster SHC as well as a National Hurling League with the Premier County.
The 31-year-old defender felt the time was right, however, to step away from the inter-county limelight.
“Following 10 wonderful years playing senior hurling for Tipperary since first being called up by Babs Keating in 2006, which had until then been a lifelong dream, I wish to announce my retirement from the inter-county scene,” Stapleton said in a statement. “I wish to thank my family, especially my parents Patricia and John, for all the positivity and advice through the years and also to my partner Jozette and close friends for supporting me always, particularly when I had injury setbacks.
“I owe a huge gratitude of thanks to the principal and my fellow staff members of Coláiste Mhuire Co-Ed Secondary School, Thurles, who facilitated me in any way they could during my time with the county.
“My club Borris-Ileigh have always made life easy for me when playing with Tipperary and it will be a pleasure to give back as much as I can to them in the coming years.
“Equally, the Gaelic Players Association has helped massively whenever I needed assistance and they provide a great service for the players.
“In the Tipperary backroom over the years, men of the calibre of John Casey, Paddy O’Brien, Dr Kevin Delargy, Dr Brendan Murphy and Mick Clohessy had their work cut out keeping me injury-free and they all did a fantastic job and I sincerely thank them for that. The Tipperary County Board has also been great to me and continues to support the team to an elite level with the much appreciated assistance from the Tipperary Supporters’ Club.
“I’d like to thank the supporters who kept the faith through good times and bad, it was a huge privilege and honour to represent them.
“I would like to thank all the players I played with and I feel unbelievably lucky to have shared a dressing-room with some of the best Tipperary have ever produced. More importantly, I have made lifelong friendships and shared fantastic memories with great people.
“All the management teams played important roles in my life and each deserve enormous credit for taking on their respective roles. It is important for me that I especially acknowledge Liam Sheedy, Eamon O’Shea and Mick Ryan. They put huge trust in me and always led their teams in the best manner possible.
“Finally, I’d like to wish the current panel the very best of luck for 2017 and beyond. There is a great mix of youth and experience within this group and I have every faith that they will keep performing to the highest levels similar to what has been reached in recent years.”
Tipperary County Board chairman Michael Bourke added: “Paddy Stapleton exemplified the spirit of Tipperary by his ferocious work-rate and ambition since he first came on the inter-county scene.
“A solid, dependable and committed player the ‘Saint’ always delivered when it mattered most and through his passion on the fields of play led his line on every occasion.
“On behalf of Tipperary County Board and all Tipperary people I thank Paddy for his contributions to the Tipperary cause over the years and wish him every success for the future.”