By Peter McNamara
New Tipperary senior hurling manager Michael Ryan will also have to plan without the influential Shane McGrath next season as it emerged this morning the Ballinahinch clubman has announced his inter-county retirement.
Conor O’Mahony and James Woodlock have, in the past few days, also called time on their Tipp careers.
This latest announcement represents another blow to Ryan who surely would have been hoping to have the aforementioned trio available in 2016.
However, following a sterling career in the blue and gold, McGrath joins O’Mahony and Woodlock on the top-level retiree list.
It is possible of course Ryan wants to completely refresh the panel anyway thus putting his own stamp on the side.
Yet, the calibre of players in question is undoubted.
Either way, McGrath released a statement earlier illustrating his class once more.
“After over 10 years on the Tipperary senior hurling panel, I have decided that now is the right time to announce my retirement from inter-county hurling,” McGrath explained. “It was a great honour and privilege for me to play with Tipperary and I will greatly miss being involved with the special group of people that is the Tipperary senior hurling panel.
“I have many great memories and made many lifelong friendships over the last decade or so.
“I was fortunate to enjoy some wonderful moments during my career and it was a great honour for me to have been Munster Player of the Year in 2008, to captain Munster and Tipperary and to win two All-Star awards. Most special of course was being part of Tipperary’s All-Ireland-winning team in 2010, it was simply unforgettable.
“I want to thank all the players sincerely. While we endured some disappointments, we had so many great times together and we have always been united in our ambition and commitment to bring success to Tipperary.
“I also want to thank the managers and backroom teams who helped me to fulfil my potential and were very supportive of me as well as Tipperary County Board and Supporters Club.
“I come from a small club, Ballinahinch, and it was a great privilege to represent them when I wore the blue and gold. “Thanks to everybody there for their unswerving support and loyalty. My parents and family have also been hugely supportive of me and helped me in any way they could – many thanks to all of them. I also want to thank my fiancée Joanne and her family for their support and encouragement at all times.
“Finally, I wish Tipperary well for the future. I look forward with optimism to seeing this very talented group of players achieving plenty of success.”
Tipperary County Board also released a statement to thank McGrath for his services to the inter-county scene in the Premier County.
“Tipperary County Board extends its best wishes to Shane McGrath on the announcement of his retirement from the Tipperary senior hurling panel.
“During his long career Shane epitomised what it meant to wear the blue and gold of Tipperary by carrying the premier crest in unfailing passion.
“He was the driving force in many of his county’s triumphs while his flair and skilfulness endeared him to player and supporter alike.
“A wonderful leader and never afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve, Shane’s loyalty and honesty were some of his greatest assets, qualities well recognised by his fellow players and management teams alike.
“Again, Shane was instrumental in Tipperary’s successes over his career and we are very grateful to Shane for his long and dedicated service to the county and we wish him all the best for the future.”